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Extreme Anti-Choice Bill Becomes Law

Posted on in Legislative News

Yesterday, the NC Senate voted 29 to 19 to override the Governor's veto of HB 854, the incredibly inaccurately named "Woman's Right to Know." The bill would be more accurately called "Women Know Nothing" as that is the message it clearly sends to North Carolina women. The ACLU-NC strongly opposed this bill and urged Governor Perdue to veto it. When she did, herculean efforts were made to sustain her veto. Unfortunately, the override of the veto succeeded in the House because Representative James Crawford, a Democrat from Granville County, switched his vote, voting in favor of the override having voted against the bill in June.

Yesterday, Senator Stan Bingham, a Republican from Davidson County, decided to leave the building rather than vote on the bill, giving the Republicans the three-fifths majority they needed to override the veto. Senator Bingham voted against the bill in June and spoke out publicly about the bill. If he had voted "no" again yesterday, the override vote would have failed and the bill would not become law. The politics of this situation suggests that Senator Bingham was threatened with sanctions within the Republican Party if he voted against the bill so he choose to leave the building instead. Because Representative Crawford and Senator Bingham decided not to stand up and do what their earlier votes indicate they knew was right, women in North Carolina will be subjected to a government-imposed 24 hour waiting period, two pages of one-size-fits-all biased “counseling” written by politicians, not doctors, and an additional ultrasound that has to be placed in view of the woman and described in detail by the doctor before she may obtain an abortion.

The new law applies regardless of the circumstances of the woman and removes all discretion from the doctor to respond to her patient’s specific needs. This is an insult to the women of North Carolina.

So Much for Small Government

Posted on in Legislative News

The NC House Judiciary Subcommittee B passed HB 854 Abortion - Woman's Right to Know Act this morning. The vote was 9 - 5 along party lines with all the Democrats opposing the bill. The bill, which would better be called the "Women Know Nothing Act" allows politicians to interfere directly with the doctor - patient relationship by requiring two pages worth of government scripted "counseling" by doctors before a woman may access the safe and constitutionally protected medical procedure of abortion. In addition, the bill undermines the spirit of Roe v. Wade by requiring a 24 hour waiting period, an ultrasound, that the doctor describe the ultrasound, and creation of biased and unnecessary counseling before a woman may terminate her pregnancy. The bill is now expected to be voted on by the full House early next week. Call your House Representative and ask him or her to oppose this bill which extends the reach of the government into the doctor's office.

In 1973, the US Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, acknowledging that whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term was ultimately the pregnant woman's decision and protecting women's access to abortion. In his concurrence in Roe v. Wade, Justice Potter Stewart, citing several earlier Supreme Court cases, wrote, "We recognized ‘the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.’ That right necessarily includes the right of a woman to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy."

HB 854 restricts access to abortion well beyond access to any other health care and interferes in this medical decision making in a way no other procedure is interfered with. The bill places substantial burdens on a woman already in a difficult situation and second guesses decisions that ought to be made by the woman and her doctor. The Government and politicians ought not to be mandating one size fits all counseling and ought to leave the practice of medicine to doctors, nurses, and other qualified health care professionals.


The Very Definition of a Slippery Slope

Posted on in Legislative News

After lengthy debate, the NC House or Representatives voted in favor of HB 483 DNA Samples/Additional Felonies on Second Reading on Monday. The bill Returns to the House floor tomorrow for its third and final reading.

During debate, the obvious flaws with HB 483 were highlighted; its cost and the fact that the almost $70,000 estimated cost for 2011 and $123,000 for 2012 can't be covered in the current budget, the fact that most of the crimes listed have nothing to do with DNA, and its questionable constitutionality. Once again, Representative Bradley (R-Franklin) explained the liberty interests involved in taking DNA prior to conviction for a crime without a warrant, concluding his comments with the statement that the new crimes for which DNA will be collected "demonstrate that this is a slippery slope." Representative Glazier, a supporter of taking DNA on arrest, agreed with Representative Bradley stating, "this gets perilously close" to simply taking DNA on arrest for all crimes. He stated that, even were that something the General Assembly wished to do, it would be very costly and the State simply doesn't have the money now. In 2010, the ACLU-NC argued that HB 1403 Collect DNA Sample on Arrest was a slippery slope that could lead, one day, to taking DNA from all North Carolinians. HB 483 brings us one step closer to that day. Despite the lengthy arguments against the bill, it passed 73-44. The bill will be voted on in the House one final time tomorrow before moving to the Senate for consideration.

What's the Cost?

Posted on in Legislative News

In 2010, the ACLU-NC vigorously opposed HB 1403 Collect DNA Sample on Arrest, a bill that required the automatic taking of DNA on arrest without a warrant for a select list of felonies and misdemeanors. At the time, the ACLU-NC argued this was a slippery slope and that, while the list of felonies and misdemeanors for which DNA would be taken was limited now, it would expand. We had no idea that expansion would come so fast. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee B passed HB 483, a bill to vastly expand the list of felonies for which DNA must be taken on arrest. Despite unanswered questions about how the bill would be paid for and how many innocent North Carolinians it might impact, the bill was hurried through committee, but not before the bill sponsor, Representative Burr (R - Stanly) admitted that the goal was to start collecting DNA prior to conviction at the time of arrest for all crimes.

The fiscal costs of collecting DNA from every person arrested in the state may be a little more obvious (HB 1403 had an estimate price tag of approximately $11 million over 5 years), but the point was made in committee that there are other costs to a law like this. There is the cost to individual privacy and bodily integrity as, in order to collect DNA, a government official has to insert a swab into your body and scrape away some of your cells - cells that give the government access to information about thousands of genetic traits. There is also the cost to communities that already feel themselves targeted by the criminal justice system who will no doubt feel even more marginalized by this invasive search when they have their DNA taken before they've ever been convicted of a crime. However, this cost was disregarded by the majority of the committee who voted in favor of the bill. The bill was passed 8 to 5 with Representatives Bordsen, Bryant, Glazier, Haire, and Michaux voting against this vast expansion of the state DNA database. The bill now goes to the House floor for a vote.