North Carolina Senate approves sweeping abortion bill

DURHAM, N.C. -- To cries of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" from outraged women, the state Senate in North Carolina on Wednesday passed a bill that would impose new licensing requirements and other restrictions on abortion clinics.

Hundreds of protesters, most of them women, gathered in the Senate gallery and outside the legislative building in Raleigh as the Republican-led Senate approved the bill, 29 to 12. The measure would require abortion clinics to meet the same medical standards as outpatient surgical clinics.

Courtesy LA Times Via the Raleigh New & Observer

Republican backers of the bill said it is designed to protect women’s health. Opponents said the measure -- attached Tuesday night without public notice to an unrelated bill banning sharia, or Islamic law, in family law cases -- was a blatant attempt to restrict abortion in the state.

The public outcry over the measure was similar to protests last week in Texas where onlookers cheered state legislator Wendy Davis, who wore pink sneakers as she delayed passage of an anti-abortion bill with a 13-hour filibuster on the state Senate floor.

The North Carolina bill -- the Family, Faith and Freedom Protection Act -- requires abortion clinics to undergo a licensing process similar to outpatient surgical clinics. Specifically, it instructs the state Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that standards at abortion clinics are "similar to those for the licensure of ambulatory surgical centers."

The bill also imposes restrictions on doctors who perform abortions; prohibits abortion coverage by health plans participating in federal healthcare exchanges under the new health law; and allows healthcare providers to refuse to provide abortion-related services.

For more on this LA Times story, click here.