Monday, July 15, 2013

Abortion in North Carolina


North Carolina's General Assembly is attempting to restrict women's access to abortion, justifying the proposed new legislation by claiming that the state needs the laws to ensure safer conditions for women who have abortions. For example, the proposed legislation requires that a physician remain in the room with the woman throughout the procedure, that abortion clinics meet the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers, and that a physician be present when a woman takes not only the first but also any additional doses of an abortifacient.

Those legislative proposals may seem prima facie reasonable. However, seeking to justify new restrictions on women's access to abortion is a blatant example of political dishonesty. Proponents of the legislation are unable to cite any examples of how current standards have resulted in unsafe care or treatment for any woman. Only one of North Carolina's sixteen clinics that currently perform abortions meets the proposed new standards. In other words, the legislation's real intent is clearly to restrict women's access to abortion through legislative action modeled on what other states have done.

Many of the advocates of the proposed legislation are also hypocrites. They object to federal healthcare mandates because the government should not tell physicians how to practice. Yet that is exactly what the proposed new standards on abortions would do. That intrusion into medical practice is completely unwarranted in the apparent absence of any valid medical issues under the current standards.

The legislation's proponents are also hypocrites in that they complain government has too many unnecessary regulations, yet they want to impose additional regulatory burdens on abortion clinics in the absence of any medical need to do so.

No, the real issue behind the proposed legislation in North Carolina (and in many other states that are considering or have adopted similar legislation) is an attempt to restrict women's access to abortion through dishonest disclaimers that they intend the legislation to promote safe medical care without showing any need to improve safety or to impose additional regulation.

I have previously argued in Ethical Musings that abortion is ethical, e.g., in my posts Abortion and Mississippi's personhood amendment. People who disagree should have the honesty to make their dissent known openly and directly. Politics in America needs more honesty, not less. Americans need more access to healthcare, not less. Moreover, in general, we need less government regulation, not more – but that's a topic for another Ethical Musings post.

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