The bill has already won approval in the House. It could now test Gov. Beverly Perdue's abortion rights stance, who will decide whether to accept or veto it.
The Senate voted 29-20 to approve the measure requiring women who want abortions to get an ultrasound of their fetus and to wait 24 hours after hearing a description of developmental stages, risks and their doctor.
Perdue will weigh whether the legislation pushes the state too deeply into a private choice, as her fellow Democrats say. Majority Republicans contend the measure is designed to give women more information about what happens during an abortion and who is providing it.
"I suspect it will be one of several social issues that will arrive on the governor's desk that illustrate the Republicans' more extreme agenda. We have found places that we have been able to work together, but there have been very few this session," said Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson. "She'll have to give it very, very serious thought before taking action. The governor supports choice. She's made that very clear."
The bill would prohibit an abortion unless a woman is provided with state-specified information about the physician at least 24 hours in advance. Women also would get information about the likely stage of development of the fetus, the medical risks of having an abortion and giving birth, and the availability of abortion alternatives. A woman would have to hear all of the details either in person or by telephone from a physician or nurse.
North Carolina is one of 16 states that don't require specialized counseling before an abortion. Half the states require a waiting period after counseling.
The legislation should be seen as one of many safety regulations passed into law like those that increase safety in the workplace and on the road, said Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke.
"We believe this gives women the best information they need to make a decision they will live with for the rest of their lives," said Daniel. "Are we adding regulations to the abortion industry? Yes we are. We know statistically this will save lives."
Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, said she found it ironic that Republicans stand for getting government out of people's lives, except when it comes to the bedroom. The bill also is unnecessary, said Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth.
"What is it about women that we don't care enough about our faith, our god, our bodies, our babies, that we've got to have people come tell us how we should live our lives and how we should perform in certain ways," Garrou said.