Today, I am grateful for the ability to make decisions about my health, and to have access to medical services as I need them. While it’s easy to take this for granted, pending legislation — the "Women's Right To Know Act” (HB 854) currently in the North Carolina Senate, may change all this.
HB 854 aims to redefine informed consent by imposing a 24-hour waiting period for those seeking an abortion — a safe and legal medical procedure — in this state. This bill requires all patients to be shown an ultrasound image, as well as a verbal description, including gestational development and audible detection of a heartbeat, at least one day prior to an abortion. If these stipulations truly helped individuals make better decisions, I would champion them; everyone deserves the privilege to make well-informed choices.
For many however, HB 854 will make medical choices even more inaccessible and difficult. In WNC, where transportation and gas costs are prohibitive, a trip of several hours is hard enough traversed once, let alone repeated 24 hours later. Imposing a waiting period limits those who are juggling families, jobs or financial burdens — in short, most residents. HB 854 does not enhance the solvency of medical information currently given to patients seeking an abortion; no greater safety or psychological care is achieved. In fact, families experiencing pregnancy loss due to fetal anomaly or miscarriage would be subject to these same requirements. As medical patients in this state and country, the “right to know” is already inherently ours. Currently, an ultrasound and detailed description thereof is freely available upon patient request, but not yet required by legislative decree.
Continuing to allow residents the privilege of employing our own best judgment, and ensuring access to trained medical providers, may be the most illuminating path our state government can take.
— Anna Pfaff