Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday defended his decision to sign a bill that advocates for women’s rights wanted him to veto: legislation that extends the waiting time for an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours and that imposes other new requirements.
The governor said he and his staff worked with legislators for months to shape a bill that he could support in the wake of his 2012 campaign promise not to sign into law any new restrictions on abortions.
“I have followed that promise,” McCrory told reporters at a news conference in Raleigh. “In fact, if anything, I have ensured the bill was written so women would not be denied further access.”
He said he and others succeeded in removing two or three provisions that would have impeded women’s access to abortions that would likely have been challenged in court. Here’s a break down.
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The governor’s rationale
Waiting period: While the bill extends the waiting period from 24 to 72 hours, McCrory emphasized that the period begins with just a phone call and not a physical visit to the clinic, much like making a typical doctor appointment.
He said removing the phone call option from the current law had been discussed but was rejected. That idea was not a part of any of the bill’s drafts. One version was titled, “72 Hours Informed Consent by Person or Phone,” and all versions considered include a telephone option.
McCrory said he believes that having a phone call trigger the waiting period of 72 hours is acceptable.
“I think when most people find that out they go, ‘That’s reasonable. That’s a reasonable process to go through.’ And, frankly, that process a lot of people use for all serious medical procedures.”
Who can perform abortions: At one point, the bill would have limited abortion procedures to physicians who have been board certified or certifiable in obstetrics and gynecology. The final bill expanded that to include doctors who have sufficient training based on established standards in abortion complications and miscarriages.
On Wednesday, McCrory said he worked to “more clearly and rationally defined medical training and qualifications to ensure there will be no further restrictions on access.”
Protecting children: The governor also said his support of the bill is because of other provisions that protect children, as that was something his administration had sought. The bill includes mostly minor changes in definitions and clarifications of several laws that protect juveniles.
Those provisions were in a separate bill by a Democratic senator, who complained they were included in the abortion legislation for political leverage.
Other abortion changes
The bill also says:
▪ Clinics and hospitals where abortions are performed must send to the state’s health agency statistical summaries of the medical and demographic characteristics of the procedure.
▪ A physician who performs an abortion or causes a miscarriage in a woman after the 16th week of pregnancy must send details to the state, including an ultrasound image. After the 20th week, the doctor must provide the state with a rationale for aborting or causing a miscarriage. Abortions after 20 weeks are illegal in North Carolina except under certain conditions such as protecting the woman’s health.
Protest against McCrory
While the governor talked about the abortion bill and other legislation at a news conference in Raleigh, two dozen abortion-rights activists demonstrated outside his Jones Street office.
They brought with them boxes containing 16,000 petitions opposing HB465.
Signs held up by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina supporters said: “Stop war on women,” “No more broken promises,” “Women will remember,” and “Betrayed.”
Emma Akpan, with Planned Parenthood in Raleigh, said McCrory broke his campaign promise.
“They think they are standing up for women’s safety, but instead House Bill 465 is dangerous for women,” Akpan said.