Supporters, critics say abortion bill could be better

Melissa Reed, Planned Parenthood
July 29, 2011 5:19:44 PM PDT
A new and controversial state law forces women to take certain steps before getting an abortion.

Critics have been the most vocal in the debate, but even supporters of the bill tell the ABC11 I-team the bill could be written better.

"It's a terrible day for women in NC," said Melissa Reed of Planned Parenthood.

Reed has a long list of problems with the new law, but above all, "this bill has no exceptions."

Under the law, before any woman gets an abortion, she must listen to the fetus' heartbeat, listen to the doctor describe the fetus and see its face on the ultrasound screen.

The woman can choose to avert her eyes, but she has to sign a statement saying that.

The rules apply to rape and incest victims, just like they do to a 14-year-old, who got pregnant by mistake, or to a mother who desperately wants children and gets pregnant but can't carry a fetus to term for medical reasons.

"For that woman who has a very wanted pregnancy that's gone terribly wrong, it's abusive," Reed added. "She's gonna be forced to see an ultrasound to hear a heartbeat of a child she can never hold and never love."

The bill's Republican sponsor, Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte, says that was taken under consideration.

"If she doesn't want to see, if in her case she wants to avert her eyes, and not hear that part of it," she can do that, Samuelson said.

Samuelson says requiring a signature could have been taken out of the legislation, but it didn't occur to the committee to do so.

ABC11 asked Senator Jim Davis, who is a strong supporter of the law, why there were no exceptions and if some should have been included.

"Ah, possibly," Davis said. "I think there are some parts of that bill that maybe could have been drafted better, a little less onerous maybe."

That's something Reed wholly agrees with but because the bill wasn't drafted differently, she says the new law will likely end up in court.

"I think the state can look forward to further litigation on this issue," she said.

Supports of the bill say they might consider tweaking the law when they go into session next May.

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