North Carolina passes “Women’s Right to Know” Act

Yesterday, North Carolina House voted 71-48 to pass the “Women’s Right to Know” Act which forces women to wait 24 hours to have an abortion, forces them to see a sonogram and feeds them “information” about the risks of abortion. Because nothing says ‘I love you women of North Carolina’ like forcing state mandates on women about what they think is best for their minds and bodies.

“This is about respecting women,” said Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican who sponsored the bill. “This bill keeps abortion legal. It keeps abortion safe. And, by golly, we know it helps make it more rare. It is still her choice. It makes it her informed choice.”

Opponents called it an unwarranted intrusion on a women’s privacy.

“Today we decide we know better than every woman in North Carolina about her body, her mind and her soul,” said Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat.

Perdue joined the criticism.

“The Legislature should be focused on what they said they would focus on: creating jobs and strengthening education,” she said in a statement. “Government has no role interfering in the relationship between a doctor and a patient. Legislative leaders who vow to make government less intrusive and to protect individual freedom are advancing a bill that does just the opposite.”

Respecting women? Informed choices? Last I checked a big part of respecting someone’s needs is giving them the opportunities to make the choices that are best for themselves, not intoxicate them with subjective information that may or may not be true.

After this it goes through the state senate and then to the Democratic Governor Bev Purdue’s desk who will hopefully give it a no go.

via Bellingham Herald.

Join the Conversation

  • Matt

    A mandate (loss of choice) is about the opposite of a right (having a choice).

    Granted, it’s not quite out of Nineteen Eighty-Four, where the idea is to strip away thought entirely, but shaming/intimidating individuals is not a civilized alternative.

  • Emolee

    So insulting how it is labeled the “Women’s Right to Know” Act. If I heard only the title, I might think it was somthing to help women. But this is NOT about women’s *right* to know anything. It is about *forcing* women to “know” certain (possibly untrue) things. And that is a charitable description. This reminds me of the horrible recent legislation in Texas. Hopefully this won’t become law.

  • Leah

    We have something like this in Michigan. You have to pick up information about abortion, prenatal care, adoption, and parenting 24 hours in advance for an abortion appointment. On the other hand, no requirement to see sonogram. Patients have to be asked whether or not they want to see the screen, whether or not they want a copy of the sonogram, and whether or not they want to be notified if multiple pregnancies are seen. They are not required to do any of these things if they don’t want.

  • Evan Grantham-Brown

    The text of the Act is available here:

    These are the noxious parts that I noticed (there may have been others I missed):

    #1: Certain information, including “medical risks… when medically accurate,” must be provided 24 hours before the abortion is performed (effectively requiring a 24-hour waiting period).
    #2: The doctor is required to direct the patient to a state-published pamphlet on abortion.
    #3: The doctor is required to perform an ultrasound and describe what it shows.
    #4: The doctor is required to tell the patient about a bunch of services and agencies available to help with pregnancy and childbirth.
    #5: A laundry list of people have standing to sue for violations, including spouses, parents, siblings, guardians, and current or former doctors of the patient.
    #6: If the plaintiff wins a lawsuit, the defendant pays all attorney fees. If the defendant wins, the plaintiff pays only if the lawsuit is found to be frivolous or in bad faith.

    (I am not a lawyer, so maybe those last couple of provisions are standard operating procedure for health regulations, but they sure look bad to me.)

  • Brüno

    Whats the big deal? So women get to see a sonogram, are informed about the risks of abortion and after having been informed, can have their abortion performed after 24 hours.

    • Janet

      The big deal is that the state of North Carolina is, in essence, bullying the woman. I’m guessing that the sonogram and time added is done to make sure that women feel some level of guilt or shame about the idea of aborting a fetus.

    • F.Toth

      @Bruno: I hope you are joking, but just in case someone thinks you are making sense, this is a VERY big deal.
      First of all, she doesn’t “get” to see a sonogram. She is forced.
      Second, this makes her schedule 2 doctor’s appointments one day after another. In many jobs this is not possible. In some others, it would be possible only if she had a sympathetic boss to whom she wanted to reveal her personal life.
      If the nearest abortion provider is a long way from where she lives, this may mean staying overnight out of town in addition to travel time and the cost of the appointments and the procedure.
      If she has children or is the caregiver for other people, it increases the cost and inconvenience that much more.
      And as far as being “informed of the risks of abortion” I didn’t see anything in the law informing her of the risks of carrying a pregnancy to term, which are known to be a greater threat to a woman’s health than abortions.

    • davenj

      The issue is that it’s tying up abortion, a safe same-day procedure, in endless legal regulation for non-medical reasons to service a political agenda.

      Women don’t “get” to see a sonogram, they have to see one. Very different things.

    • Lauren

      So women get to pay an extra couple hundred dollars for an unnecessary sonogram and can have their abortion performed after they take an extra day off work, travel double the time, and possibly pay for a hotel if the trip is too long to make twice. All that extra expense could easily cost more than the procedure itself, which is very difficult for many women to afford on short notice as it is. All because some people believe women aren’t smart enough to make the right healthcare choices under normal physician guidance.

    • ADHD PhD

      Bruno — assuming you aren’t a troll, here are some of the problems with the law (and I’m sure there are more problems as well that aren’t at the top of my head right now)

      1. has to spend more on travel because it is two days (bus fare there and back? hotel room? gas? fast food?)

      2. might need to find someone to take care of children, family members, pets

      3. the “risks” of abortion that are pushed by these laws are not always medically accurate

      4. need to take additional time off of work

      5. sonogram is an unnecessary, intrusive medical procedure that could be triggering for some people (regardless of whether they have to look at it, hear it described or not)

      6. two appointments make it more likely that other people might find out and maybe they it to be a secret

      7. assumes people haven’t already thought about their options and made the decision that is best for them.

      The law is only about making abortion more difficult, not about giving people more information. If it was just about making information available, then they could alternately let people get the information from an automated telephone call or from a website. There is no reason to make someone travel twice other to humiliate them and make their life difficult.

      • Brüno

        I think we can all agree that abortion is a serious issue. Unless your are in the ER, you dont go to the doctor and are operated the same day. You are informed about your avaiable options and then the doctor makes a decision together with an informed patient. I dont see why abortion should be any different. Why should women feel guilt seeing a couple of cells?

        • Emolee

          For starters, the fact that many (but not all) patients wait until a later day to undergo other medical procedures is a result of scheduling and medical administartion- there is NOT A LAW stating that people have to wait 24 hours, for example, to remove ovarian cysts.

          As for feeling guilty, maybe they *shouldn’t,* but many likely still do (and many don’t). That is not the point. The point is that the sonogram is medically unnecessary and is a tactic to deter women from getting the real medical help that they need.

  • Sam

    ‘This is about respecting women’? Actually this undermines a woman’s ability to think and choose for herself. Nice try, though, Ruth Samuelson.

  • Emolee

    In the case of early pregnancy, sonograms are usually done trans-vaginally. This means that the state is forcing the woman to be pentrated without medical necessity. I have seen this be very traumatic for women, especially very young women and rape victims.

  • Ariadne

    This is such bullshit. I’m so tired of this. Where are the laws that protect women from those creepy anti-choice protesters? Where are the laws that protect women from harrassment? Where are the laws that help cover medical expenses and childcare whatever that may mean for women who have unintended pregnancies? Where are the laws that require these congresspeople to take responsibility for their actions or … have any knowledge at all of what it is they’re legislating.

    Any time you go under the knife for whatever any time you get anesthesia the doctor is already required to explain all the risks and benefits and there’s that nice little consent form. How stupid do these congresspeople think we are? How ’bout I legislate that they have to wait 24 hours before getting care after a car accident because you know … it might be God’s will that they exsanguinate and I think they should think long and hard about what it is they’re doing. Please. This is ridiculous. I mean … it’s so crazy that that’s my best metaphor. Who the hell voted these crazy people in? And they get a salary for this foolishness? Really?

    Congratulations Congress of North Carolina, you have successfully betrayed your constituents and undermined human rights. Well done.

  • Hayley

    This is ridiculous. Of course the doctor tells you about the risks, they have to with anything medical. It certainly isn’t about making it “safer,” that’s for sure. I’ve never trusted someone that says “by golly,” and that includes you Ms. Samuelson.

screenshot of ship from Vessel

Watch the new doc on one doctor’s quest to offer safe abortion where it’s illegal

The new documentary Vessel tells the story of Women on Waves, founded by Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts who sailed the world in an “abortion ship,” offering off-shore medical abortions in the international waters surrounding countries where abortion is outlawed. Her project eventually morphed into Women on Web, which does great, life-saving work by sending abortion pills by mail to people lacking legal access. The film has opened in NYC, and is now available for streaming on iTunes.

Also, be sure to check out this interview with director/producer Diana Whitten on the Community site. As she notes, the story, unfortunately, holds particular relevance in the US today. “Due to recent legislative attacks on reproductive healthcare, the situation for U.S. women in many ...

The new documentary Vessel tells the story of Women on Waves, founded by Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts who sailed the world in an “abortion ship,” offering off-shore medical abortions in the international waters surrounding countries where abortion is ...


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