North Carolina’s Race to the Bottom

There are events that make you wonder if you live where you thought you did or if you woke up in, say, Saudi Arabia. If not Saudi Arabia, then possibly a more conservative state like Texas or Mississippi. Or even Ohio.  Or maybe you still do live in the state but wonder if you’ve been transported back in time, and it is actually 1953 or 1933 and not 2013.

The War on Women has come to North Carolina.  I watched the hateful and horrifying attempts to limit women’s reproductive freedom in Ohio and Texas. I was disgusted by the personhood initiatives in Mississippi and other states. You always think it can’t happen in your state until it does. I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the new conservative majority in the NC General Assembly passed Amendment One and tried to establish a state religion. Last week, the General Assembly approved a bill that would force educators to spread false information about abortion. And, starting July 1, 70,000 North Carolinians, including military personnel, lost extended unemployment benefits thanks to a new law; another almost 100,000 will lose benefits once their time ends. The thought process is that the loss of the cushy benefits will encourage citizens to find work. That might work if there were jobs to be found.

But the General Assembly’s actions yesterday take the cake and bring home the seriousness of the changes in North Carolina. HB695 was a bill that would prohibit the application of foreign law in family court.  Late yesterday, the Senate decided to amend the bill to include major restrictions on abortion:

  • Doctors would be required to remain in the room whether it is a medical or surgical abortion
  • Abortion clinics must go through licensing procedures similar to outpatient surgical centers (there is one clinic that would qualify)
  • Clinics must have transfer agreements with local hospitals

The end result is that it will be extremely difficult for a woman to obtain a safe, legal abortion in North Carolina. Let me reiterate: a legal abortion.

The Senate hoped to avoid demonstrations and news coverage like Texas faced last week, but thanks to social media, that was impossible.  Protesters have rallied outside the General Assembly.  However, unlike Texas, we can’t filibuster this bill to death.

Y’all, I’m scared and anxious. This is not the North Carolina I grew up with. And I’m pissed and angry because I am fucking tired of old white men (and women) trying to decide my reproductive choices. Treating me as if I am not entitled or able to make medical decisions for myself. Deciding that the life of the unborn is more important than my own life; until that life gets here of course.  Then it’s every child for him or herself. Better hope your only option for pre-k isn’t the state’s program because chances are, you’re shit out of luck with this legislature. Better hope you can afford private school because this legislature hates the public school system too.

I’m tired of it. NC General Assembly: get out of my uterus and stay out. You are destroying my state and the progress we made over the last 60 years.  Maybe you should go read that Bible  you’re so fond of quoting; I think you might be surprised at what you find.

Update

As expected, the bill passed the Senate and now returns to the House for a final vote.

For shame, North Carolina.

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12 comments

  1. I know… it just gets more and more depressing every day. They have gotten rid of every maternal and child health focused initiative they could get away with…I was on a call recently where the Louisiana and Mississippi folks were joking that they were going to start saying “Thank God for NC!” They’re even dissolving the Child Fatality Task Force – this is the body that focuses on intentional deaths of children, unintentional deaths, and perinatal/infant deaths, and is totally volunteer (except for the legislators who participate – their time is compensated – natch) – because, beyond just hating women and poor children, they apparently hate ALL children. Despite the fact that NC gets $141 million from the Master Settlement Agreement each year, the legislature only put $1 million towards tobacco, and that was only for the Quitline. No youth prevention (goodbye award-winning, evidence-based Tru Campaign), no perinatal tobacco cessation (even though 1 in 10 pregnant women in NC smoke, and smoking during pregnancy is directly responsible for 10-20% of all infant deaths in NC and directly associated with 3 of the top 4 killers of infants – not to mention the long-term health effects for those babies that do survive and their families)… The list just goes on and on.

    My only hope at this point is that, since they control the governor and the legislature, they hang themselves with their own, catastrophically far-reaching policies. What a mess there will be to clean up, though…

  2. Wonderful summary of the clusterfuck that is that the current NC General Assembly. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in the Casey decision that a state could regulate abortion so long as it did not place an undue burden on the woman. Please tell me how allowing ONE clinic to remain statewide under the Senate rules is not an undue burden to the women and families of North Carolina.

  3. I am so, so confused… I can understand how requiring a doctor to be in the room for a medical abortion would seriously limit availability, but most abortions are surgical anyway. These other guidelines, I’m assuming, we’re put in place under the guise that they are supposed to make abortions safer, but they are really just restricting them? I might be a little lost because , up here in Canada, most abortion clinics are actually run out of women’s health centres that are affiliated with a hospital or bigger clinic. Regardless, that’s not the point of your post. This whole abortion BS has got to stop, are there not bigger fish to fry, so to say (not that abortion even deserves to be a fish to fry)?.. I have and will always believe that the CHOICE to have an abortion is something that should be made between a woman and her doctor, and maybe her partner. That is it.

  4. From what I read it does sound like this law is infringing on the rights of women and making abortions harder to obtain. With that said, the bulleted items you shared seem like they might be GOOD things. Clinics should have transfer agreements in place in case something goes wrong – that allows their patients to get swift medical care in a facility that can see to their medical needs. (The hospital I worked at a few years ago had transfer agreements in place with all of the surrounding medical facilities.)

    And I would think we would want abortion clinics to meet the standards of outpatient surgical centers – they are performing a type surgery with risks involved and expertise needed. It sounds to me like a provision such as this would ensure that abortions are performed safely by properly trained medical staff. I understand this can create a short term issue while facilities get licensed, but there are usually grace periods for this type of thing. It seems to me that it would encourage better quality of care and prevent adverse outcomes.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong! I’m definitely pro-reproductive rights but I also know from experience that some medical facilities have abominable lapses in medical care that would continue if they weren’t forced to correct hem.

    1. You’re right that in theory the bulleted items are good things, but the Gen Assembly knows that hospitals won’t participate in those agreements and that the licensing requirements may force the clinics out of business or be a hoop they can’t jump through.

      1. I can totally see that. It would be good if they put a provision in there to say that hospitals cannot refuse transfer agreements.

        I do know one way around that is just to go into the ER – hospitals cannot turn away someone who presents in the ER.

  5. I am freaked out too. The NCGA is soooo much more conservative than most polls suggest the broad population of NC is. Because I live in Asheville, I am in this magic progressive bubble and get shocked out over and over by the crazy things our legislature is doing. I laugh at the stupid things like outlawing the warming sea or even the ridiculous sharia law vote, but reproductive choice? That hurts women – mostly the many poor and the rural women of our state.

  6. Yikes. We just seem to be getting closer and closer to the world of A Handmaid’s Tale … I don’t understand how this is happening. Except perhaps that too many people are throwing up their hands in despair, and the people who want to limit the rights of women are stomping all over them.

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