Do you hear that “chip, chip, chip” sound of states slogging away at the Roe v. Wade abortion rights law? Now, a law enacted on January 1 in North Carolina requires doctors to send ultrasound images of women who had abortions after the 16th week to state officials. So much for medical privacy.
The new law also forces women to wait 72 hours before they can have an abortion, which is the nation’s longest wait time. This wait time forces any woman who is not near an abortion provider to take on the undue expense of lodging an extra day.
Pro-choice critics and executive director of the liberal group Progress N.C. Action Gerrick Brenner says the law is a “creepy scheme” that reminds them of “something out of George Orwell’s ‘1984.’”
Melissa L. Reed is vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, which operates clinics in four states. She said that state inspectors can already go to abortion clinics to review medical charts.
In her opinion, the purpose of the new law is to intimidate doctors, particularly because the determination of fetal age is “not an exact science.”
Reed also accused lawmakers of trying to intimidate women, because they are requiring “the most intimate piece of a woman’s medical record” be sent to a government agency, the Department of Health And Human Services (HHS).
Anti-abortion activists justify the new law by saying it will verify that doctors and health clinics are complying with state law that prohibits abortion after the 16th week.
They say the law simply gathers ultrasound data for “statistical purposes only” and insist patients’ and doctors’ names will be kept confidential.
Anti-abortion activist and executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, Tami Fitzgerald, who was integral in moving this measure into law, said:
‘It should also act as a deterrent to the doctors themselves from lying about gestational age. The state has made a public policy decision that babies after 20 weeks have a right to live. So this law is about protecting the rights of those unborn babies.’
Of course, Fitzgerald has no examples showing doctors engaging in actions this law is intent upon preventing.
The North Carolina HHS requires doctors to provide them with:
- The method used to determine the “probable gestational age” of the fetus
- The measurements used to support the assertion and
- Most controversially, an ultrasound showing the measurements.
“The New York Times” reports that North Carolina does have some exceptions for medical emergencies.
Just wait, and states will try to squeeze those exceptions out, too.
Featured Image: World Bank Photo Collection