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