Legislation to ban Islamic law in North Carolina now also contains a number of anti-abortion measures, potentially closing all but one abortion clinic in the state.
“This attempted sneak attack on women’s reproductive rights is absolutely shameful,” Sarah Preston of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina said Tuesday. “Issues as vital and personal as access to comprehensive health care and doctor-patient relationships deserve to be debated in an open, public process – not hastily pushed through without notice and under the cover of night during a holiday week.”
House Bill 695 originally sought to prohibit courts from using Sharia and other foreign laws in family law proceedings. The North Carolina Senate Judiciary committee on Tuesday unexpectedly tacked on six anti-abortion measures late in the afternoon and sent the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) said she was “appalled” by Republicans’ attempt to use “procedural tricks” to ram the anti-abortion measures through the state Senate.
The legislation would now allow any health care provider to opt out of providing abortion-related services, prohibit health plans offered through federal health care exchanges from offering abortion coverage, outlaw sex-selection abortions, require doctors to stay in the room during the entire abortion procedure, force abortion clinics to obtain patient-transfer agreements with local hospitals, and mandate that abortion clinics meet the same stringent standards as outpatient surgical centers.
“These loathsome restrictions and the deceitful method through which the Senate tried to pass them are an obvious effort to not simply prevent women in North Carolina from having comprehensive access to much-needed health care, but to not even give them an opportunity to weigh in on legislation that will have wide-ranging impacts on women and doctors all across our state,” Preston added.
Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Morganton) told the News & Observer that abortion clinics should be regulated the same way as surgical centers. Just one clinic in the state currently meets that standard, which includes regulations on corridor widths and room sizes, among many others.
“The politicians who responsible for this backdoor maneuvering have taken seriously the rising tide of activists gathering weekly outside the General Assembly to oppose anti-choice legislation. Unfortunately, the lesson they’ve taken is that the best way to accomplish their goals is to hide their maneuvers from the public,” said Suzanne Buckley of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.