Raleigh, NC – The NC Senate’s GOP leaders are fast-acting on a bill that would require a doctor performing an abortion to legally certify that the patient had the abortion based on race, sex, or diagnosis of the down- Fetus syndrome not aimed at.
Abortions based on gender preference are already illegal under state law. However, doctors do not currently have to officially confirm why a patient chooses one. House Bill 453 would change that.
The move has strong support from right to life advocates and many people with Down syndrome, but it is opposed by medical groups, the ACLU, and the state’s most prominent disability advocacy group.
The bill would require the doctor to record “whether the race, sex, or presence or suspicion of Down syndrome in the unborn child was determined by some type of genetic test or ultrasound or some other form of testing before the abortion. “
The doctor would be required to provide the state health authorities with “a statement from the doctor stating that the woman did not tell the doctor and the doctor has reason to believe that the woman did not have the abortion because of the actual or suspected race of the unborn child.” has requested “. or gender or the presence or suspected presence of Down syndrome. “
On the Senate Health Committee, Senator Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, said that up to 70 percent of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome are estimated to have abortions. She told the committee that common prenatal screening tests also often produce false positive results.
“Should children ever have to pass a genetic test to get the right to be born straight?” asked Krawiec. “This is eugenics at its worst.”
Krawiec compared the issue to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a comparison that angered Senator Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford.
Robinson said she is a community health professional who works with minority women, many of whom are not receiving adequate medical care or assistance.
“It is truly an atrocity to continue to propose such bills when we refuse in this General Assembly to protect and support the very women who give birth to lightweight children,” said Robinson.
“We continue to bring up these kinds of bills which, in fact, discriminate against the very people they purport to protect,” added Robinson. “That’s why I’m absolutely against this kind of legislation.”
The committee’s spokesmen were largely in favor of the bill, including two people with Down syndrome and a number of parents of children with Down syndrome. Some parents said they felt pressured by their doctors to have an abortion, but decided against it.
“Doctors will tell you that you cannot prepare this child for life. You are wrong. You push and push,” said Ashley Kean. “Doctors don’t tell you the infinite love and joy and laughter that your child will bring into your life.”
“A disability diagnosis should never be a death sentence, especially in a society like ours that prides itself on diversity and inclusivity,” said Sue Swayze Liebel of the Susan B. Anthony List anti-abortion advocacy group. “It is time our laws caught up with our basic compassion and overwhelming public opinion.”
But ACLU’s Liz Barber said the bill would “undermine”[e] a person’s fundamental constitutional rights to abortion and privacy. “
Barber said it would force the doctor’s speech to have a doctor formally testify the reason for an abortion, which is against the U.S. Constitution. “Any federal court dealing with the issue agrees that a state cannot ban abortion on the basis of the patient,” Barber added.
Attorney Tara Muller with disability rights NC said her group was against the law.
“Forcing people to terminate in order to carry a pregnancy to term does not help to improve the rights of people with disabilities,” said Müller. “We ask that you consider other ways to serve people with disabilities, and there are many ways. There are currently 15,000 people with intellectual disabilities in North Carolina waiting for basic care.”
After the Senate Health Committee passed Wednesday morning, the bill was added in less than an hour to the hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday afternoon, where many of the same witnesses re-aired their earlier testimony. This committee also approved the measure according to party lines. It’s expected in the Senate next week.
The House of Representatives has already passed House Bill 453 in its current form. So if it were approved by the Senate, it would go to Governor Roy Cooper, who could sign it, veto it, or make it law without his signature. Cooper has vetoed other abortion laws.
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