A new North Carolina law went into effect on Jan. 1 that requires doctors who perform a legal abortion after the 16th week of pregnancy to provide the State Department of Health and Human Services with an ultrasound of the fetus. The law has sparked controversy, and even Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has weighed in on the issue.
The new law also requires doctors to state how they determined “probable gestational age” of the fetus and provide measurements to support their claim, notes The New York Times. The state does not allow abortions after 20 weeks except in cases of medical emergencies.
“It should also act as a deterrent to the doctors themselves from lying about gestational age,” Tami L. Fitzgerald, the executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, told the newspaper.
“The state has made a public policy decision that babies after 20 weeks have a right to live," Fitzgerald added. "So this law is about protecting the rights of those unborn babies.”
Melissa L. Reed, the vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said that determining the age of a fetus is “not an exact science" and slammed the notion that “the most intimate piece of a woman’s medical record” is shared with a state government agency.
Alexandra Lefebvre, of the State Department of Health and Human Services, said that the ultrasounds and supporting records “will be reviewed by a board-certified obstetrician within the department to monitor for compliance with the law.”
Clinton's director of women’s outreach, Mini Timmaraju, slammed Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina on Jan. 4 for allowing the law to go into effect, according to The News & Observer:
It’s shameful that Governor McCrory has decided to disregard the sanctity of a woman’s relationship with her doctor by allowing this new law to go into effect requiring government review of women’s personal medical information.
As President, Hillary Clinton will fight to protect women’s health and reproductive rights while ensuring the government does not get between a woman and her doctor. Governor McCrory should suspend this outrageous law immediately.
On Jan. 5, North Carolina Republican press secretary Kara Carter responded: “It's no surprise that Hillary Clinton's campaign and liberal groups are again attacking Gov. McCrory. It's clear that Hillary Clinton's campaign is more interested in playing politics and scoring political points than protecting the health and safety of women."
The law does not address the health of women, but rather the age of the fetus at the time a woman chooses to have an abortion.