The North Carolina legislature passed a bill Tuesday seeking to spell out and mandate physicians provide care to babies who survive abortion.
“Any infant born alive after an abortion or within a hospital, clinic, or other facility has the same claim to the protection of the law that would arise for any newborn, or for any person who comes to a hospital, clinic, or other facility for screening and treatment or otherwise becomes a patient within its care,” according to the legislation. Physicians who violate the bill will be charged with a Class D felony and fined up to $250,000.
North Carolina’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reacted to the bill’s passage immediately and sent Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper a letter urging him to veto the legislation. The bill would “interfere with the patient-provider relationship, target health care providers, and mislead the public about safe, legal abortion care,” according to the letter.
“This extreme anti-abortion bill shamelessly inserts political ideology into the practice of medicine, replacing health care providers’ best judgment with that of politicians,” North Carolina ACLU Senior Policy Counsel Susanna Birdsong said.
The governor’s spokesman, Ford Porter, also criticized the bill, saying in a statement, “This unnecessary legislation would criminalize doctors for a practice that simply does not exist.”
“Laws already exist to protect newborn babies and legislators should instead be focused on other issues like expanding access to health care to help children thrive,” Porter said, according to the Observer.
Republican Rep. Sarah Stevens applauded the bill’s passage, the Observer reported. “Nurses, doctors, if you see something, you have a duty to report. And that’s a big part of this bill,” Stevens said.
The born-alive bill’s passage comes after U.S. District Judge William Osteen struck down in late March a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, ruling that a “week-or event-specific” ban is not constitutional, Reuters reported. Legal abortions may occur to the point of viability as determined by a presiding physician under Osteen’s ruling.
A number of states have passed bills restricting abortion access. Arkansas, North Dakota, Iowa, Mississippi and Kentucky have proposed bills or enacted laws outlawing abortion in the presence of a fetal heartbeat. Many of the abortion bans, however, have remained ineffective following court orders prohibiting enforcement, Cleveland.com reported.
SB359 now heads to Cooper’s desk for signature. He will likely veto the measure.
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