An abortion ban is on its way to Governor Cooper, and we need your help to defeat it.
By Susanna Birdsong, NC Director of Public Affairs | June 11, 2021, 8:16 p.m.
Yesterday House Bill 453, a bill that would restrict access to abortion, passed the North Carolina General Assembly and is now on its way to the governor for his signature or veto. We need your help to ensure this bill is vetoed by Governor Cooper and never becomes law.
The debate around this bill has been rife with misleading information (sometimes outright lies) and sham justifications for eroding bodily autonomy. And with the bill sponsors pushing an insidious narrative that this anti-abortion bill would somehow prevent eugenics and race discrimination from occurring, there’s a lot to unpack.
But first, a refresher: At bottom, H.B. 453 would require doctors to interrogate their patient's reason for seeking an abortion, preventing a person from obtaining one if their decision is based on the presumed race of the fetus or a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. This bill seeks to expand an existing North Carolina law that bans abortion if the sex of the fetus is a “significant factor” in the patient’s decision. That law is bad, and this bill would make it far worse. H.B. 453 throws politics directly into the middle of a doctor’s relationship with their patient and shames them for having a safe and legal abortion.
And that’s important because bill sponsors have lied multiple times in committee hearings, saying doctors would not need to affirmatively ask their patient about the reason for their abortion. In fact, the bill states that the doctor must confirm that the reason for the abortion does not include the sex, race, or a Down syndrome diagnosis of the fetus, and would have to provide that information, along with ultrasound imaging, to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). (How does one confirm a patient’s reason behind their decision without asking them about it?)
In practice, this bill would negatively affect the doctor-patient relationship by interfering with providers’ ability to have confidential, open, and honest conversations with people who are pregnant, removed from shame and stigma.
Sponsors of the bill have also said this would prevent the practice of eugenics and discrimination against people of color and people with Down syndrome. Not only does this bill do nothing to end eugenics, it is actually an extension of this form of reproductive oppression as it allows the state government to take away a person’s right to make private medical decisions about their body. Forcibly sterilizing a person and forcing a person to carry a pregnancy to term against their will are both forms of reproductive control.
Additionally, the bill does not include any policy provisions that would address the maternal health disparities that Black women face, or the very real infant mortality rate disparities that break down along racial lines. Nor does the bill improve the lives of people living with Down syndrome.
Disability Rights North Carolina and other civil rights organizations oppose the bill for that very reason, noting in committee testimony that “forcing someone to carry a pregnancy to term against their will does nothing to address discrimination against people with disabilities … [nor] does it address the real needs of people with Down syndrome.”
Here’s the upshot: If supporters of the bill were genuinely interested in addressing the needs of people with disabilities or people of color, many measures have been introduced in this legislative session that would do just that. Some of those measures include:
Expanding Medicaid, which would give many people who are differently abled access to the health care they need;
Ensuring adequate funding for Medicaid Innovations Waiver slots — a program designed to meet the needs of people with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome that currently has a more than 15,000 person waiting list in North Carolina;
Prioritizing bills like the NC Momnibus Act, introduced in both the House and Senate, to address racial disparities in pregnancy and childbirth outcomes in Black and Brown people.
Instead, anti-reproductive health care legislators have spent valuable time and resources trying to pass bills to restrict access to safe and legal abortion. That in itself is nothing new for the North Carolina General Assembly. But to do so under the guise of preventing discrimination and ending eugenics is a new level of low.
It’s also worth noting that a Missouri law that included restrictions similar to H.B. 453 was blocked by a federal court just Wednesday. H.B. 453 is blatantly unconstitutional, and, if signed into law, would open the state of North Carolina to legal challenges.
The bill is now headed to Governor Cooper’s desk for his signature or veto, and he needs to hear from you. Click here to contact him directly and tell him that North Carolinians are against this bill, and we will fight to ensure that reproductive rights are protected.
It’s time to show up for abortion access in North Carolina. Make sure your voice is heard and urge Governor Cooper to veto H.B. 453.
Help us defeat House Bill 453
Contact Governor Cooper now and urge him to veto H.B. 453
Tags: North Carolina, Abortion restrictions, abortion_access, abortion_care, reproductiverights