By Gailya Paliga and Toni Van Pelt
When Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the so-called “Born Alive” bill on April 18, 2019, he sent a clear message to the state legislature that these types of “junk science” bills on abortion will not stand in this state. We encourage the state legislature to learn from this failed effort and stop their attacks on women’s constitutional right to abortion.
The politicians and the groups behind these anti-abortion measures have always been in pursuit of a single goal. They want to ban all abortion, including in cases of rape and incest and return control of women’s bodies back to lawmakers. To do that, they need to find a case that can be taken to the Supreme Court and lead to a decision that repeals or severely limits Roe v. Wade.
A bizarre competition for most extreme abortion restrictions is taking place in a handful of states—and sadly, North Carolina is one of them. This is a spotlight we surely don’t need.
“The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” is a dangerous political maneuver that has no basis in science. There is no such thing as legislatively protected infanticide in North Carolina—or anywhere else in the U.S. Second and third trimester abortions make up less than 1 percent of all abortions and are usually only done when the health of the woman is at risk or the fetus is not likely to survive outside of the womb.
The myth that doctors are murdering newborns following a failed abortion is a cynical, dishonest and fear-mongering tactic designed to get headlines. Here in North Carolina, the backers of this outrageous bill see it as a way to intimidate doctors from performing abortions, by threatening them with criminal and civil penalties, including a felony and a fine of not more than $250,000.
According to the State Center for Health Statistics, there were only two abortions after 20 weeks in the years 2016 and 2017 (one in each year) in North Carolina. Yet abortion opponents persist in attempting to create the impression that second and third trimester abortions are frequent and that murder of babies born alive is an epidemic.
“Born alive” legislation, personhood amendments, fetal heartbeat laws, waiting periods, scripted mis-information consent requirements, bans on public funding, insurance prohibitions, unnecessary clinic regulations — these laws are not designed to protect women. Instead, they are designed to oppress and control women, under the guise of deterring women from having abortions.
And there’s another, even more insidious motive at work. With two new conservative justices on the Supreme Court, a groundswell of activity is rising up in states with conservative legislative majorities to pass a bill that limits access to abortion in such an egregious manner that the Supreme Court will have to take up the case. The ultimate goal? Reverse Roe v. Wade.
We applaud Gov. Cooper for vetoing this dangerous legislation and rejecting junk science, protecting women, and standing up to the politics of distraction and division.
Our leaders should be working to protect health care, and not demonize women for exercising their constitutional right to abortion.
Gailya Paliga is president of the North Carolina National Organization for Women and Toni Van Pelt is president of the National Organization for Women.