NC Senate votes to change the new abortion law while Republicans reject a dozen amendments from Democrats

By: - June 27, 2023 5:48 am

The law banning most abortions after 12 weeks is set to go into effect on July 1. (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

The state Senate approved changes to a new law limiting abortions just days ahead of a federal court hearing in a lawsuit brought by abortion providers. 

The law banning most abortions after 12 weeks is set to go into effect on July 1. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a Duke University OB-GYN are seeking a temporary freeze on at least parts of the law. 

Senate Republicans last week introduced some last-minute changes to the law that addressed some of the issues the lawsuit raises. 

Along the way to giving final Senate approval to a handful of changes to the abortion law on Monday night, Republicans voted to table without debate a dozen Democratic amendments. 

Sen. Natalie Murdock, a Durham Democrat, said the law will force people to carry pregnancies and give birth against their will, and possibly increase the rate of Black maternal deaths. Black women die at about three times the rate of white women from pregnancy-related causes, according to the CDC.

“My ancestors were enslaved in Orange County in North Carolina,” Murdock said. “Black women have been fighting for control of their bodies for centuries. Black mothers and babies are dying.”

Republicans voted to table Murdock’s amendment to codify the US Supreme Court decisions Roe vs. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion, and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, which reaffirmed that right.

The US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision last year overturned Roe vs. Wade and set off a wave of laws in states seeking to either ban or restrict abortion or to solidify abortion protections. 

On Monday, Democrats offered more amendments that would:

  • Establish the right to contraception.
  • Prohibit tracking of emergency contraception sales.
  • Affirm that women can seek abortions in other states and that people can help them obtain out-of-state abortions. 
  • Make it illegal to block people from entering facilities that perform abortions, to harass or threaten people seeking abortions, or to publish their personal information.
  • Allow lawsuits against people who block facilities that perform abortions, harass or threaten people seeking abortions, or publish their personal information. 
  • Establish that it is legal to drive a woman to a facility offering abortions. 
  • Prohibit use of technology to track people within a one-mile radius of a facility offering abortions. 
  • Prohibit internet service providers from giving information on search histories, browsing histories, and nonpublic communications about people’s decision to seek abortions to third parties or to law enforcement agencies. 
  • Prevent fathers from suing women who have abortions and the people who help them obtain abortions. 
  • Require crisis pregnancy centers to seek state certification. Require pregnancy centers that receive state money to provide medically accurate information about abortion. 
  • Forgo the 72-hour waiting period to avert death for women with psychological or emotional conditions. The law does not require the waiting period where delay would risk substantial or irreversible physical impairment.

The House must vote on the changes before sending the bill to Gov. Roy Cooper.

State Attorney General Josh Stein, a defendant in the lawsuit, said on Twitter last week that his office would not defend portions of the law that are unconstitutional. He did not specify which parts of the law his office would not defend. Stein is running for governor and opposes the law. 

Republican legislative leaders have asked to intervene in the case to defend the law, The News & Observer reported. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Lynn Bonner
Lynn Bonner

Investigative Reporter Lynn Bonner covers the state legislature and politics, as well as elections, the state budget, public and mental health, safety net programs and issues of racial equality.