North Carolina pro-life law praised as positive step

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Pro-life advocates are praising North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory for signing into law a multi-part pro-life bill that rasies abortion safety regulations in the state.

"While we pray for the day when there is no longer a need for any clinic that performs abortions, this bill is a positive step," Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh said.

"But there is more to be done. We will continue to witness, advocate, educate and most importantly pray for the protection of all human life. Our work is ongoing."

The bill bans sex-selection abortions, in which an unborn child is targeted for her or his sex; "telemedicine" abortions, in which a doctor prescribes abortion drugs remotely; and insurance plans that cover abortion from the state insurance exchanges now required by federal law. The health care plans of county and city governments may no longer cover most abortions.

The new law also requires that a doctor be present during any type of abortion. It instructs the state health department to regulate abortion clinics in a similar manner to ambulatory surgical centers.

Additionally, it extends conscience protections to all medical professionals with religious or moral objections to participating in an abortion. Previously, only objecting doctors and nurses were protected.

Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for National Right to Life, praised the move.

"Today, North Carolina will be safer for unborn children than it was yesterday," she said July 30.

She said the law's provisions are "protective and common-sense measures" that echo "growing public discontent" with abortion law.

"Mothers and their unborn children deserve better than the violence of abortion, and the American people continue to support measures that encourage a culture of life," she said.

Some opponents of the bill said it would close most of the state's 16 abortion clinics, since only one clinic meets the bill's health standards. The construction of an ambulatory surgical center costs about $1 million more than present abortion clinics, though the costs of converting existing clinics to these types of centers is not clear, the Associated Press reports.

Almost half of U.S. states now require abortion clinics to meet standards similar to ambulatory clinics. Twenty-three states have opted out of abortion coverage in federal insurance exchanges. Seven states bar sex-selection abortion and 15 bar abortion drugs administered via telemedicine.

Bishop Burbidge said the bill is "pro-woman."

"It is designed to ensure the health and well-being of all those involved, but most importantly the women, to guarantee that required care that is needed is present at all times," he said.

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