By a vote of 74-41, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill designed to ensure that women who undergo an abortion procedure have immediate access to a physician, should something go wrong, as it can and does occur. The legislation, Senate Bill 353, has been sent to the State senate for concurrence.
In addition to requiring a physician to be present during an abortion, either surgical or by taking an abortion drug, the measure also requests the State Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to study what resources the Department needs to adequately enforce any regulation it places on abortion clinics and to make available on the State website a list of resources the woman may contact for assistance upon receiving information that the child may have a disability or serious abnormality. In essence, it calls for the State Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to apply any requirement to abortion clinics that it uses to certify walk-in surgical centers.
The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge said, “Senate Bill 353 is a pro-woman legislation, rather than an anti-abortion bill, as opponents have erroneously mischaracterized it. In today’s world, a woman should be guaranteed the normal and just health-care protections and safeguards that are associated with any type of medical or surgical procedure.”
Bishop Burbidge said opponents have claimed that this Bill is aimed at closing abortion clinics in our State. “Nowhere in this legislation does it state that, nor is it implied,” the Bishop said.
Another important aspect of this legislation is that it affirms the constitutional guarantee of conscience rights for health care providers, as is afforded to all Americans. SB-353 affirms these rights for any health provider who objects to being part of a medical procedure that results in abortion. Additionally, by allowing State government employee health-care plans from opting out of covering abortion services, this Bill protects taxpayers from having to support abortion services, which may be against their moral, ethical or religious beliefs.
The Bishop noted that while SB-353 is not an exact bill in providing for the protection of the unborn, it is a step in the right direction. “The fact that its primary purpose is to protect the safety of a woman who chooses to have an abortion, as well as protecting children who may be unwanted because of their gender, is worthy of our support,” Bishop Burbidge said.
The Bishop is asking Catholics to contact their State senator prior to the Senate vote to ask that he or she vote for SB-353. Telephone numbers and email addresses of senators can be accessed through the NC State Government page, http://ncleg.net/representation/WhoRepresentsMe.aspx. Simply place your address in the box next to Basemap under North Carolina Senate. It will provide a Senate seat number that you can click, and it will take you to the information page of your state senator.