by John Grooms
Yesterday, the GOP in the General Assembly, those endless promoters of freedom and limited government intrusion into citizens’ lives, rammed through one of the most extreme abortion laws in the nation. They did it by overriding Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill that she rightly called “a dangerous intrusion into the confidential relationship that exists between women and their doctors." The law is called the Woman's Right To Know Act, but we refer to it as The Women Who Choose To Have An Abortion Don’t Have Enough Problems Act. Its primary sponsor was Rep. Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte.
How intrusive is this new law? Let us count the ways. Warning: This could get lengthy. Women in North Carolina who want an abortion — which, as we’ve said before and remind readers again, is a completely legal medical procedure — will have to jump through a series of very specific, government-mandated hoops, obviously designed to change the woman’s mind. She first has to hear a doctor's spiel about the fetus' probable gestational age and the medical risks of abortion. Then she must be told she could receive benefits for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care if she carried the fetus to full term. The doctor also is obligated by this law to tell her that the father is responsible for assisting in the support of the child, and that she can keep the baby or place it for adoption if she wants to. (Gee, really?) She must also be given a list of agencies that "offer alternatives to abortion," such as phony "crisis pregnancy centers," or CPCs, which are usually run by anti-abortion and/or religious groups — many of which have been caught giving women false information in order to keep them from having an abortion. And that’s not all, not by a long shot.
The state will also set up a website declaring that “The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique living human being." Which is fine, except that those are theological/philosophical theories, not provable scientific facts. In other words, if you're a woman who has chosen to have an abortion in North Carolina, you are now legally bound to have the religious right's views spoon-fed to you, whether you want to hear them or not.
And that’s still not all. Here is the "intrusive government" coup de grace: A doctor must perform an ultrasound on the woman. The Big Brother-ish, oddly nightmarish language used to describe this required process reveals a lot about the people who rammed this bill through, as well as their contempt for the women patients.
" .... the physician, shall do each of the following:
"(1) Perform an obstetric ultrasound on the pregnant woman. [The price of the ultrasound will, of course, be added to the woman's bill.]
"(2) Provide a simultaneous explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting, which shall include the presence, location, and dimensions of the unborn child within the uterus and the number of unborn children depicted. The individual performing the ultrasound shall offer the pregnant woman the opportunity to hear the fetal heart tone. ...
"(3) Display the ultrasound images so that the pregnant woman may view them. [Doctors also have to fill out a government form designating whether the woman averts her eyes or not during the ultrasound — sorry, but that’s like something from Brave New World, or worse.]
"(4) Provide a medical description of the ultrasound images, which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable.
"(5) Obtain a written certification from the woman, before the abortion (!), that the requirements of this section have been complied with ..." And it goes on.
So this, dear readers, is how the GOP lawmakers and their religious right-wing backers interpret "trusting people to make their own informed decisions without government intervention" — with nine pages of robotic-sounding, legalese gobbledygook that plainly inserts the state into the most private areas of a woman's life. Meet the New Bosses, even worse — much worse — than the Old Bosses.