May 2, 2023 - News

NC, a Southern abortion destination, to pass 12-week restriction

Illustration of a giant pencil drawing a line in front of a lone woman looking down at the line.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After months in limbo, the future of abortion access in North Carolina is crystalizing.

  • The state, which has served as a hub for women seeking abortions as southern states have tightened access, is all but certain to restrict the procedure after 12 weeks under sweeping legislation Republican state lawmakers unveiled Tuesday night.

Yes, but: The 46-page proposal includes a host of exceptions for women facing devastating circumstances — like rape or incest — along with a slew of funding for childcare and foster care, local health departments to provide contraception and paid parental leave for teachers and state employees.

Why it matters: If passed into law over Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto, the proposal could become the most moderate of those passed by conservative-led legislatures since the fall of Roe v. Wade.

Details: North Carolina's legislation, which will be advanced in the form of a conference report that cannot be changed, would allow abortions up to 20 weeks in cases of rape or incest and 24 weeks if the fetus has "life-limiting anomalies."

  • If a mother's life is in danger, there will be no limit to when a health care professional can perform an abortion.
  • The bill also includes millions in funding to reduce infant and maternal mortality and morbidity, as the state has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.
  • It will also set new requirements that health care professionals consult those seeking abortions only in person, not by phone, ahead of the 72-hour waiting period that is already required.

How it works: Mothers who violate the 12-week ban would not face any penalties, but doctors could face fines and be reported to the regulatory body that oversees them.

  • Suppliers of abortion pills could also be penalized for providing medication directly to women.

What's next: The House is set to pass the measure Wednesday, and the Senate is expected to send the bill to Cooper's desk Thursday.

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