RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Governor Roy Cooper announced that on Saturday he plans to veto the abortion legislation that recently passed the state House and Senate, but it remains to be seen whether Republicans will override that veto.
Meanwhile, some medical providers are raising concerns that the bill is even more limiting than it appears.
“I think something that people are not realizing about this bill is that, in addition to banning abortion after 12 weeks, it is making it substantially harder for people to access abortion before 12 weeks,” said Dr. Erica Pettigrew, a family physician in Hillsborough.
She said the wait for an abortion appointment has already increased at many clinics due to an influx of patients coming from surrounding states with stricter abortion laws than our current one.
“It has caused wait lists, wait times, to be longer than typical here in North Carolina,” she said. “So it may take people a couple of weeks to even get in to see a provider.”
Amber Gavin, vice president of advocacy and operations at Woman’s Choice, which operates several clinics, including one in Raleigh, says most patients already have to wait about 10 days for a surgical abortion.
“If we know they are close to the gestational limit, we try to accommodate an appointment sooner,” she said.
Still, a 12-week abortion ban could mean women would have to schedule an abortion well before their 12th week of pregnancy.
Dr. Pettigrew says another requirement of the legislation could cause even more of a backlog.
“People have to get more in-person visits,” she noted.
Under the bill, state-mandated consultations 72 hours before an abortion, which could previously be done on the phone, would have to be in person, and a follow-up visit would be required for medication abortions.
“These are not medically necessary appointments,” Pettigrew said.
Gavin said the potential consequences aren’t clear yet, but that could lead to longer wait times.
“It will require our physicians to spend time on administrative tasks instead of actual care,” she added.