Source: Port City Daily
Four North Carolina House Representatives have introduced a bill that would lower statewide restrictions on abortion, according to Port City Daily. Reps. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover), Julie von Haefen (D-Wake), Lindsey Prather (D-Buncombe) and Maria Cervania (D-Wake) are the four sponsors of House Bill 439, which would codify abortion access.
As it stands now, abortion is legal in North Carolina up to 20 weeks and requires a 72-hour waiting period before the procedure as well as state-directed counseling. Any physicians in the state who perform an abortion after 20 weeks are required by law to submit proof that it was a medical emergency.
House Bill 439 would change that though. The bill is titled Remove Barriers to Gain Access (RGB) Act and it would legalize abortion until viability, as outlined by Roe v. Wade. HB 439 would also abolish the 72-hour waiting period.
Currently, insurance does not cover abortion, and North Carolina only allows Medicaid and state health insurance to cover the procedure in situations of life endangerment, rape or incest. The proposed bill would permit health insurance providers to cover the costs of abortion in all cases and would allow psychological and emotional conditions to constitute a medical emergency, justifying an abortion up to viability.
“Abortion is health care,” Rep. Deb Butler told Port City Daily. “Everyone should have the freedom to plan families as they see fit. We have put stumbling blocks in front of women, unreasonable waiting periods, causing people hardships in an already difficult circumstance.”
Additionally, the proposed bill would address restrictions on who can oversee procedures; currently, only licensed physicians can oversee the procedures, but HB 439 would expand the ability to nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certified nurse midwives. Considering that 91% of North Carolina counties do not have a licensed abortion provider, this would expand access to abortion in rural areas that desperately need it.
A group of House Republicans have recently introduced a full abortion ban and Republican leaders in the House and Senate are continuing to have closed-door conversations about what restrictions they will advance this session.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the General Assembly continue to put forth proposals to protect reproductive rights for all North Carolinians.