On Tuesday the North Carolina House narrowly overrode Democratic Governor Bev Perdue's veto of a particularly harsh bill requiring ultrasounds and a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed. Women who are the victims of rape or incest would not be exempt from hearing a detailed description of the fetus. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, the Republican who sponsored the bill, ended the debate by declaring that making it more difficult to have an abortion actually shows respect to rape survivors — and she knows because she is one.
According to the Huffington Post,
The Abortion-Woman's Right to Know Act, which Perdue vetoed in June, requires a doctor to give a woman an ultrasound prior to the abortion procedure and to describe her fetus in detail, including the size of its organs and limbs, whether she wants to hear it or not. If she refuses to view the ultrasound image or listen to the fetal heartbeat, the doctor must record that and keep her name on file for seven years.
Samuelson says that forcing doctors to talk about the fetus — even when their patients say they want them to stop — is simply a matter of presenting relevant information to the patient. She adds that the measures described in the bill don't remove choice, which is true. It just makes it clear that the state doesn't think women are capable of coming to a reasonable choice with their doctors on their own. No, they must be double- and triple-checked along the way, to make sure they're really, really, really sure that this is what they want.
Samuelson also offensively suggests that she knows the ultrasound and waiting period wouldn't be traumatizing for rape survivors, because obviously she can speak for all women who've gone through what she did. She says:
To tell me that somehow or another a woman who's been raped, let alone by someone she is related to who may very well have brought her to the clinic, that somehow or another it's better for her not to know what's going to happen to her once again to not to have the chance to weigh her alternatives once again and to act like somehow or another someone saying, "Look, this is what's going on. This is some time to think about it." Respecting her choice is traumatic and victimizing? I'll tell you what traumatic and victimizing is ... I urge you respect the women. Whether they got raped or whether they got pregnant willingly.
Here's audio of her full statement:
Today the Senate is expected to vote on the bill, and there's a good chance it could pass. The bill needs 30 votes to override Perdue's veto, and the News & Observer reports it was initially approved, 29-20, in June. If the numbers hold in the Senate it may come down to the two Republicans who didn't vote for the bill originally. Republican Senator Stan Bingham told the Huffington Post that he doesn't believe he'll change his vote:
"I just really am troubled by the fact that the government is involved in something as directly related to someone's personal life as abortion, and I feel hypocritical in voting to support this because I've always raised my four daughters to make these kinds of decisions on their own."
"There's a lot of non-facts in some of the things that have been said — they make it sound like you go in to get a hamburger and you have an abortion, without any medical exams, no check-ups, no discussion, but the medical society strongly disagrees with this, and my daughter is a physician and she strongly disagrees with this too. So I'm trying to be open-minded."
If Bingham continues listening to reason instead of his fellow Republicans, the vote may come down to the one Republican who chose not to vote on the bill in June. Bingham is the one to watch.
Abortion Debate Audio [News-Record]
North Carolina House Votes For Ultrasound Law, Overriding Gov. Perdue Veto [Huffington Post]
Gov. Perdue's Abortion Bill Veto Overridden By Legislature [News &Observer]
Image via liseykina/Shutterstock.