The number of states considered hostile to abortion skyrocketed from 2000 to 2014, as you can see in the infographic from Guttmacher Institute, at http://www.guttmacher.org/media/infographics/2000-2014-maps-states.html
North Carolina was doing fine through 2010. When the conservatives took over the Legislature in 2011, women’s access to abortion was attacked in a severe way. Somehow conservatives convinced a Republican woman to sponsor an omnibus bill interfering with access to abortion in many ways. This bill sought to burden abortion doctors as well – giving the man who provided the sperm (be he husband, boyfriend, or rapist) legal standing to sue the abortion provider for performing an abortion!
As is the habit of conservatives, bills are named with innocuous sounding names – as if they were going to help exactly what they are hurting. Same in this case, NC House Bill 854 was called ‘Abortion – Women’s Right to Know Act.’ This bill added a 24 hour waiting period and informed consent of a pregnant woman before an abortion may be performed. And it may not be immediately obvious what a burden these cause.
In fact, pro-choice activists called the so called Women’s Right To Know Act (WRTK) the ‘Women are Stupid’ bill, because the bill is so patronizing to women, assuming they have not thought carefully about a decision to terminate a pregnancy.
NC NOW’s lobbyist at the time, Paula Wolf, called it “an insult to the intelligence of every woman who resides in NC and is unwarranted government intrusion into the doctor/patient relationship.” Paula Wolf has never been accused of mincing words. In particular, the omnibus bill did the following.
- Mandates counseling with specific language written by anti-choice politicians.
- Requires a 24-hour mandatory waiting period.
- Requires an ultrasound 4 hours prior to the procedure – additional waiting period.
- Requires notarized parental consent.
- Makes no exceptions for women who are survivors of rape or incest, nor does it make any exception for women carrying a fetus with a grave fetal anomaly.
- Gives legal standing to a husband, boyfriend or rapist to sue an abortion provider.
Then Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed the bill on 6/27/11. However, the NC House and Senate were both able to override the veto and pass this legislation which made North Carolina a state that is HOSTILE to abortion. Hostile states have 4 or 5 major restrictions on abortion. Severely Hostile states (like Texas) have 6-10 major restrictions on abortion. In fact, by Jul 2, 2012, Governor Perdue vetoed 19 bills in the 14 months from April 2011 to Jul 2012 (http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/blogpost/11273413/).
The primary sponsor of the bill was Ruth Samuelson (R-Mecklenberg). Marilyn Avila (R-Wake) was a co-sponsor. The other primary sponsor and the other co-sponsors were men.
You can find all of the sponsors, bill text, and the history of the bill in the Legislature at http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/billlookup/billlookup.pl?Session=2011&BillID=H854
Many states had bills with the same WRTK name introduced – including Minnesota (2003), Kansas, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, etc. The national anti-abortion organization ‘National Right To Life Committee Inc’ has a list dated June 3, 2014 at http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/stateleg/WRTKFactSheet.pdf
These WRTK acts are pushed by a national group, Americans United For Life (AUL), as described in NC NOW’s Pro-Choice Signature Ad Appeal Letter. NC NOW’s letter states, “Many people know about the role ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) plays moving the hard right’s economic agenda. But fewer know that there is an ALEC-like organization devoted exclusively to destroying women’s reproducive rights,” AUL.
President, NC NOW