The North Carolina Senate [official website] passed 29-12 legislation [HB 695, materials] on Wednesday that places severe restrictions on abortion. The bill will likely shut down most of the state's abortion clinics because it requires clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers [AP report]. The bill also bans gender-selective abortions, restricts insurance coverage of abortions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [JURIST backgrounder] and requires a doctor to be present both when an abortion procedure is performed and when a woman takes an abortion-inducing drug. The bill drew a firestorm of criticism from pro-choice activists, who denounced the bill as an unjust intrusion on women's reproductive rights. Opponents of the bill also criticized the fact that the bill was tacked onto unrelated legislation and not given a public hearing. Governor Patrick McCrory [official website] criticized [press release] the process through which the bill was passed, stating: "Regardless of what party is in charge or what important issue is being discussed, the process must be appropriate and thorough." It is unclear if McCrory will sign the bill into law.
Many states have increased restrictions on abortions recently, keeping the issue a controversial one. On Sunday Ohio Governor John Kasich [official website] signed new abortion restrictions into law [JURIST report] that require ultrasounds for anyone seeking to obtain an abortion and curtail the ability of family planning services to receive funding. The bill was signed just a few days after Texas state Senator Wendy Davis was able to successfully filibuster against proposed anti-abortion laws in her home state in front of a crowd of supporters [RT report] from across the country. Last week a federal judge in Kansas refused to block an abortion law [JURIST report] challenged by Planned Parenthood that requires abortion providers' websites to contain a link to a state information page. In June the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) [advocacy site] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in federal court alleging that two restrictive North Dakota abortion laws violate the US constitution.