In a 74-41 vote on Thursday, the North Carolina House of Representatives approved a bill that will impose new restrictions and regulations on abortion practices in the state. The controversial regulations, originally known as HB 695, were couched within a motorcycle safety bill after the first draft of HB 695 was met with criticism and veto threats by Governor Pat McCrory (R)—to the surprise of the public as well as a number of committee members.
“New abortion bill being heard in the committee I am on,” Representative Joe Sam Queen tweeted on Wednesday, adding, “the public didn’t know. I didn’t even know.” The state House’s vote was preceded by an intense 3-hour debate session.
The bill includes a number of regulations on North Carolina abortion practices. Included in these regulations are requirements for doctors to be present during the first dose of any drug given to induce abortion and power for the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to regulate standards for abortion clinics similar to those enacted for ambulatory surgical centers. The bill would also prohibit government insurance plans from paying for abortion services. Although supporters maintain that the new regulations would enhance safety for women undergoing the procedures, opponents of the bill argue that the tightened restrictions could lead to the closure of all but one of the state’s currently functioning abortion clinics.
McCrory, who won his January campaign for governor on a platform that promised not to restrict access to abortion, stated that the first draft of the abortion bill would require significant changes to avoid his veto, though he did say that large portions of the first draft were “of sound principle and value.”
The bill will now move to the state Senate. Early indications of suggest that conservative support for the bill may override the governor’s veto.