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The Daily Tar Heel

Abortions after 13 weeks could be illegal in North Carolina if new bill passes

2019 Raleigh Womens March

Bill and Doloras Branch of Hillsborough, NC attend the 2019 Raleigh Women's March on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 to advocate for women’s rights. When asked about abortion Bill Doloars said, "I don't think anybody really likes it but the fact is, it's really a personal decision between a woman and the doctor. I don't think the government or for sections of the population should come and dictate what everybody else should be doing."

A bill proposing to prohibit abortion after 13 weeks of pregnancy was filed in the N.C. House by nine Republican representatives in the General Assembly on Feb. 5.

House Bill 28 would prohibit access to abortion after the 13th week of pregnancy except in cases of medical emergency. This bill comes shortly after President Donald Trump stated his desire to stop late-term abortion in his State of the Union address on Feb. 5. 

Currently, North Carolina law bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except when there is a danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is compromised. If passed, the law would go into effect on Dec. 1, 2019 and would apply to abortions performed on or after that date. 

The bill’s primary sponsors are Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-District 79, Rep. Michael Speciale, R-District 3, and Rep. Michele Presnell, R-District 118. 

Kidwell released a statement Monday detailing his support of the bill. Kidwell said he opposes allowing abortion after the quickening, or when mothers can feel movement in the womb around the 13th week of pregnancy.

“We need to work together toward eliminating abortion, not expanding it to the point that we kill infants in the hospital beds,” Kidwell said in the statement. 

The Daily Tar Heel reached out to the other sponsors for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Tara Romano, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, said she thinks this bill is hoping to make legal and safe abortion harder to access and that it ultimately hopes to prohibit legal abortion all together.

NARAL N.C. is a statewide advocacy group that supports the availability and accessibility of reproductive health care options for people across North Carolina. Such health care includes preventative care, termination options and full-term support.

Romano said 13 weeks is an arbitrary number, and such a ban is unconstitutional based on the current standards set in place by Roe v. Wade, which ruled that states cannot place inordinate regulation on abortion prior to viability. Romano said a pregnancy is typically considered viable at 24 weeks.  

“The 20-week ban that North Carolina has, we actually consider still an unconstitutional ban on abortion,” Romano said. “So arbitrarily pushing that back to 13 weeks is something that we know is just designed to make it harder for people to access abortion, with the eventual goal of criminalizing abortion completely.”

Romano said she thinks it’s important that legal and safe abortion remains an option because of the many reasons women choose abortion.

“If it’s not offered legally, we believe people will still try to access it, and we know that will be dangerous,” Romano said. 


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