Perdue vetoes abortion bill

She calls the bill an intrusion

Staff writerJune 28, 2011 

  • At least 24 hours before an abortion, a doctor or other medical professional must tell a woman about the medical risks associated with the abortion, medical risks of carrying the child to term, the probable gestational age, that the father is liable to assist in child support, that medical assistance for prenatal care and child care may be available and that other public assistance benefits may be available. Other detailed information includes display of an ultrasound image and heart-tone monitoring, with a description of the image. The women could avert their eyes or refuse to hear the description.

Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed a bill Monday that would require women seeking abortions to wait 24 hours after state-prescribed counseling, leaving the bill's House supporters looking for override votes.

The bill would have made significant changes in state abortion policy, changes supporters said would give pregnant women important information about fetal development and abortion alternatives. Opponents said the requirements would interfere with doctor-patient relationships and demonstrated a distrust of women's judgment.

In a statement, Perdue said doctors should be able to give patients their best advice without politicians looking over their shoulders.

"This bill is a dangerous intrusion into the confidential relationship that exists between women and their doctors," she said. "The bill contains provisions that are the most extreme in the nation in terms of interfering with that relationship. Physicians must be free to advise and treat their patients based on their medical knowledge and expertise and not have their advice overridden by elected officials seeking to impose their own ideological agenda on others."

11 vetoes and counting

Locked in a contentious battle with the GOP-controlled legislature, Perdue, a Democrat, has set a record for a North Carolina governor in using the veto to prevent legislation from becoming law. She issued her 10th and 11th vetoes for the year, with her rejections of the abortion bill and another that would have waived a county water pollution fine. The legislature passed a state budget despite her veto.

Chris Mackey, Perdue spokeswoman, said when the governor makes veto decisions, she first considers the constitutionality of a bill and then the effect it would have on the state.

"If it moves the state forward or makes the state better, she signs it," Mackey said. "If it has a negative impact on the state, then she vetoes it."

Perdue's veto was widely expected. She criticized the bill before the legislature approved it.

House Speaker Thom Tillis said in a statement that Perdue is too quick with the veto pen.

"Good policies continue to be met with hostility in the governor's office, and that is unfortunate for the people of North Carolina," he said.

Override looks difficult

Supporters of abortion limits in the House and Senate would need to pick up a vote in each chamber in order to override Perdue's veto. The House passed the bill 71-48, and supporters need 72 votes to override. In the Senate, where the bill passed 29-20, 30 votes are needed to override a veto.

The legislature could attempt an override when it returns next month, but Tillis spokesman Jordan Shaw said no decision has been made. The House also could put the veto on ice until supporters have enough votes to overturn Perdue's decision.

The House would have to try first, so it's premature to think about a Senate override before the House acts, Senate leader Phil Berger said.

Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican and one of the bill's sponsors, criticized the veto and Perdue, saying other states do more to make sure women make informed decisions about abortions.

"Having come this far in leadership, Gov. Perdue should have even greater respect for the ability of women to make careful choices when given adequate information," she said. "Yet, she made no attempt to work with us in this effort to make abortion safer and rarer, a goal even many abortion advocates support."

The bill's supporters have been working to persuade more Democrats to vote for an override, Samuelson said. She declined to give the names of those lawmakers who said they wanted to vote for the bill but felt pressured to oppose it.

"We're hoping to convince a number of them to stand with their conscience and not politics," she said.

Abortion-rights supporters who wanted Perdue to block the measure applauded the veto.

Planned Parenthood of North Carolina said it was clear that Perdue "trusts women to make personal, private health decisions without government interference."

lynn.bonner@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4821

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