Thanks, or no thanks: Giving women the “right to know”

In the rush of activity to meet the legislative crossover deadline last week, when most bills must be passed by one house in order to remain in consideration for the 2011-2012 session, the controversial abortion-control bill (HB 854) passed in the House and moved forward to the Senate. It is expected to pass there as well, and moving then to the desk of Gov. Bev Perdue. Fresh on the heels of her history-making veto of the state budget bill, is the abortion bill likely to be vetoed as well?

“My sense is it will be, but I havn’t talked directly with the governor about that,” said Rep. Ray Rapp, Democrat from Mars Hill, in a June 11 telephone interview. Rapp had found himself in a position of voting against HB 854 despite the fact that he is, as he states, “fundamentally opposed to abortion.”

“The real issue,” Rapp explained, “is interference with the doctor-patient relationship.” He referred to a letter received from Dr. William Meyer, president of the N.C. Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, that termed HB 854 “an intrusion into the physician-patient relationship,” stating that that for the government to insert itself into that relationship “with no insight or knowledge of specific situational details, no ability to resolve difficult human conditions, is wrong” and “sets a dangerous precedent where government will be directing physicians on what procedures they should be required to perform on patients.”

Among the things required by HB 854 is a list of specific information that a woman seeking an abortion must receive from the provider 24 hours before a procedure, and a mandate that the woman be given an “obstetric real-time view of the unborn child” with a specified narrative before she can have the procedure. The bill does state, however, that the woman should not be prevented from averting her eys or refusing to hear the narrative.

“The way it’s described,” Ray said of the bill’s provisions, “(you can have ) a 14-year-old raped by her father or a 40-year-old trying to make a decision late in life, (but) you have to follow the same script.” Asked if he was aware of any other state legislation that goes to such an extent in specifying medical practice details, Ray — a nine-year veteran in the Statehouse — answered: “No.”

Other high-profile bills that met the crossover deadline included HB 351, which would require photo identification for voters, and HB 824, which would establish a nonpartisan redistricting process for the next redistricting round in 2021. Of particular local interest, HB 552 to establish a Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority also passed in the House and moved to the Senate.

WNC legislative sponsors and votes in the House on the above bills were as follows:

HB 351 (Restore Confidence in Government): Co-sponsor, Republican Tim Moffitt (Buncombe County).
Voting for: Phillip Frye (Avery/Caldwell/Mitchell/Yancey), David Guice (Henderson/Polk/Transylvania), Chuck McGrady (Henderson), Moffitt, Roger West (Cherokee/Clay/Graham/Macon).
Voting against: Susan Fisher (Buncombe), Phillip Haire (Haywood/Jackson/Macon/Swain), Patsy Keever (Buncombe), Rapp.
HB 552 (Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority): Primary sponsors, Moffit and McGrady. (Rep. Susan Fisher is no longer listed as a sponsor of this bill.)
Voting for: Frye, Guice, Haire, Keever, McGrady, Moffitt, Rapp, West.
Not voting: Fisher.
HB 824 (Nonpartisan Redistricting Process): Primary sponsor, Rapp; co-sponsor, Fisher.
Voting for: Fisher, Guice, Keever, McGrady, Rapp.
Voting against: Frye, Moffitt, West.
Not voting: Haire.
HB 854 (Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know Act): Co-sponsors, Frye, Guice, McGrady.
Voting for: (Third reading votes unavailable; the votes reflected here are for the second reading.) Frye, Guice, Moffitt, West.
Voting against: Fisher, Haire, Keever, Rapp.

by Nelda Holder, contributing editor

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17 thoughts on “Thanks, or no thanks: Giving women the “right to know”

  1. Betty Cloer Wallace

    …..24 hours before a procedure, and a mandate that the woman be given an “obstetric real-time view of the unborn child” with a specified narrative before she can have the procedure. The bill does state, however, that the woman should not be prevented from averting her eyes or refusing to hear the narrative.

    “Specified narrative” indeed!

    Never before has there been such an extended effort to subjugate women’s personal bodies to the intrusion of government.

  2. Dionysis

    “. The bill does state, however, that the woman should not be prevented from averting her eys or refusing to hear the narrative”

    Today’s version of ‘compassionate conservatism’. Never mind that Republican Big Government wants to limit rights and inject itself into the doctor/patient relationship, at least they won’t clamp the eyelids open (a la ‘A Clockwork Orange’) and force the already distraught patient to view the screen.

    Kind of gives one a warm and fuzzy feeling all over, doesn’t it?

  3. Until all surgical procedures are required by law to go into gory details, this “special law” is nothing but harassment.

    Young women today have no earthly idea how it was before Roev Wade. Wake up ladies, they’re after your personal rights.

  4. Dionysis

    “Young women today have no earthly idea how it was before Roev Wade”

    If Republicans have their way, they will know soon enough.

  5. cwaster

    “Never mind that Republican Big Government wants to limit rights and inject itself into the doctor/patient relationship, at least they won’t clamp the eyelids open (a la ‘A Clockwork Orange’) and force the already distraught patient to view the screen. ”

    -Oh don’t worry, I’m sure that’s coming in a few years if the GOP has their way. ;)

  6. cwaster

    Also… IMHO, the problem here is mixing religion with politics. The right has a strong conservative Christian bent, and are intent on cramming their hidden religious control-based agenda down society at large’s collective throats.

  7. Betty Cloer Wallace

    @ travelah’s failed attempt at a medical justification for HB 854: Yes, it is a serious medical procedure that can result in complications, hemorrhaging and the scarring of the uterus. No doctor with his patients concerns in mind would advocate an off the street walk in. The only people that do are the medical profiteers and those with vested interests in promoting unfettered killing of babies in the womb.

    A description of a botched abortion, which was not uncommon before Roe v Wade, is no more justification for supporting the requirements of HB 854 with its “specified narrative” than a description of a botched vasectomy would be justification for intrusive governmental requirements foisted upon men, with “specified narrative,” even if the man “should not be prevented from averting (his) eyes or refusing to hear the narrative.”

  8. Barry Summers

    “…and due to a little-noticed amendment added in committee, it will now become law that prior to any legislator casting a vote which would lead to the cutting back of low-income food aid, housing assistance, Medicaid, domestic-abuse funding, child care assistance, rape counseling, legal aid, education, or mass transit funding, said legislator must spend 24 hours as the unpaid assistant to a low-income single mother.”

  9. bill smith

    [i]The only people that do are the medical profiteers and those with vested interests in promoting unfettered killing of babies in the womb.[/i]

    Oooh! Cuz they sell em for the stem cells, right?!

  10. BusGreg

    I certainly hope that Governor Perdue vetoes this idiotic medling by a majority male state house in a women’s issue.
    Abortion is a legal, medical procedure and therefore the only ones with any say in the matter are the mother, father and physician.

  11. dpewen

    I agree Bus … this is absolutely amazing!
    Repubs need to stop dictating our morality!

  12. Betty Cloer Wallace

    The religion-based HB 854 is reprehensible, misogynistic, paternalistic, intrusive, repressive, oppressive, medically unjustifiable, psychologically damaging, reactionary, condescending, patronizing, big brotherish, retrogressive, unnecessarily expensive, medically unnecessary, and totally repugnant.

    No woman (or man) should be required or ordered by government to do anything regarding her own personal body beyond what she herself requests from a physician who can provide legal consultation and procedures within the scope of the physician’s medical licensure.

    Any governmental requirement beyond that is harassment pure and simple.

    Rep. Ray Rapp, Democrat from Mars Hill, goes to the crux of the matter when he says he is “fundamentally opposed to abortion” but opposes HB 854 because “the real issue is interference with the doctor-patient relationship.”

  13. Meredith Eugene Hunt

    Except in a medical emergency, the information that must be made available by phone or in person 24 hours in advance are:

    -The name of the physician.
    -Medical risks of abortion.
    -Gestational age of the unborn child.
    -Medical risks of carrying the child to term.
    -Ultrasound images or sound of the heartbeat are available.
    -If the physician has malpractice insurance.
    -The location of the hospital within 30 miles that offers OB/GYN care and at which the physician has clinical privileges. If he does not, that must be made known.
    -Medical assistance benefits for pre-natal care, childbirth, and neonatal care
    -Public assistance benefits
    -The father is liable for child support payments even if he offered to pay for abortion
    -The woman has alternatives to abortion available, including adoption and keeping the baby.
    -The woman has a right to view printed materials or information online that describe the unborn child and list agencies that provide alternatives to abortion.
    -The woman has the right to withdraw her consent at any time before or during the abortion without the losing the right of future care and state or federal benefits.

    The other significant requirement is that an ultrasound scan of the baby must be made at least four hours prior to abortion and the woman can look at the images and listen to the fetal heart tone as well as listen to a simultaneous description of the baby if she wishes.

    This is a link to the text of the ratified bill: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2011/Bills/House/PDF/H854v5.pdf

  14. Meredith Eugene Hunt

    Representative Rapp is wrong about this bill.

    For instance, Georgia’s law, passed in 2005 and amended in 2007 to address ultrasound, is virtually identical to NC’s bill.

    Note also:

    “The primary goal of the Woman’s Right To Know Bill (which has passed in most other states with bipartisan support), and other medical guidelines, practices and national recommendations concerning counseling is to allow the patient to give truly informed consent based on complete information; the primary goal is not efficiency.
    Many of us who counsel patients for surgery or outpatient procedures would rather not have to document discussions with patients for informed consent counseling -which includes information on risks, benefits and alternatives – since it can be an inconvenience, cost, and time (even an extra office visit). However, this is standard practice for all physicians and surgeons primarily to protect the patient.
    A good example is consent and counseling required for sterilization among Medicaid patients. We know that these patients, particularly younger patients, are prone to regret after a decision for sterilization, and perhaps even undue pressure. Thus, these patients are required to received informed consent counseling, and to have that counseling documented in writing, 30 days prior to a sterilization to be covered by insurance. Surely, a decision to have an abortion is no less important, or no less prone to abuse.”
    Patrick Yeung Jr. MD
    Duke University Medical Center
    Assistant Professor
    Director, Duke Center for Endometriosis Research & Treatment
    Duke Center for Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery

  15. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Instead of being entitled “Giving Women the Right to Know,” this bill should be entitled “Giving Everyone Else the Right to Know.”

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