Comprehensive Abortion Bill Moves Back into House
The House has received the Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act back from the Senate clerk’s office and has already sent it to their Ways and Means committee. The bill, which aims to reduce health care coverage for abortions, passed the Senate 29 to 12 just before session broke for the July 4 holiday. Specifically, the bill will prohibit exchange insurance plans from covering abortions. Instances of rape, incest, or life-threatening pregnancy would be given special considerations for an exemption. Furthermore, medical professionals could also refuse to perform an abortion, or any procedure leading to an abortion, without fear of reprisal from their respective boards by citing a religious or an ethical objection. Sex-selective abortions (where the baby’s sex is a determining factor in wanting to terminate the pregnancy) would also be outlawed under the proposed legislation.
Governor to Decide on Abstinence Education
A bill centered on abstinence-only education was presented to Gov. Pat McCrory Wednesday. Should he sign it into law, seventh grade health classes across the state would be required to teach abstinence from sexual activity as not only the best method to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, but also as the standard for school-aged children. The curriculum would also cite abortions, alcohol consumption, and drug use as some of the preventable causes of pre-term births. The Division of Nonpublic Education would ensure this information, as well as information about diseases such as cervical cancer, are available to charter, nonpublic, and home schools as well. The bill passed the Senate 32 to 12 and the House 69 to 42 with clear partisan divisions.
Bill Addresses Motorcycle Safety, Abortion
The hotly contested and highly publicized Health and Safety Law Changes bill has passed its third reading in the House 74 to 41. While the bill does include provisions for motorcycle safety by establishing fines for drivers who cause riders to suddenly change lanes or redirect course, it spends much more time outlining some aforementioned abortion reforms. Just as in the Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act, exchange insurance plans would be prohibited from covering abortions under the proposed legislation. Physicians would also retain the right to deny performing an abortion without fear of reprimand from their professional boards and sex-selective abortions would be banned. Furthermore, a woman would also need to give her voluntary and informed consent in order to receive an abortion, with a doctor providing information on who is performing the procedure 24 hours before it is to set to begin. Courts would also be able to rule on whether or not to disclose the identity of a woman who has received an abortion and has been brought to trial for violating said abortion laws, regardless of if she asked to remain anonymous.
Senate Bill 112 Protest Petition
A comprehensive Senate bill aiming to streamline regulatory practices and stimulate job growth has come under fire for striking out a particular community countermeasure to rezoning amendments. Section 13.3 of the Create Jobs Through Regulatory Reform bill repeals General Statutes 160A-385, which currently gives property owners next to a rezoning proposal the right to issue a protest petition. The protest petition, if successful, makes it so that three-fourths of the city council must find the rezoning favorable, instead of just the usual simple majority. A successful protest petition is one that has signatures of at least 20 percent of the owners of land included in the proposed rezoning or 5 percent of those 100 feet from the proposed rezoning. The bill has been endorsed by both chambers after passing the Senate unanimously and the House 84 to 28.