On New Year’s Day, Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration began collecting ultrasound images from some women seeking to end a pregnancy. Regardless of how one feels about the right to safe and legal abortion, we should all be aware that our governor is taking an unprecedented step toward stockpiling women’s private health information for no justifiable reason.
This turn of events is the result of legislation, House Bill 465, which was passed this summer by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed into law by McCrory. In signing this invasive bill, the governor proved once again that he has no qualms about breaking his 2012 campaign promise to veto any new restrictions on safe and legal abortion.
The law directs providers of abortion to submit ultrasound images from women seeking care after a certain gestational age to the State Center for Health Statistics. This same law requires a woman who calls to schedule an appointment for an abortion to wait an additional 72 hours before she can have the procedure done. Both of these measures are medically unnecessary and do nothing but undermine a woman’s right to make private, deeply personal health decisions for herself.
Perhaps even more worrisome is that there is no way to adequately safeguard the patient’s confidentiality. Ultrasound images may be personally identifying for a variety of reasons, even if the woman’s name is removed. And these private medical images must be turned over to the state without requiring a woman’s consent or even her knowledge.
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This is an unacceptable betrayal of N.C. women. Since taking office, McCrory has signed measures that strip municipal, county, and state employees of health coverage that includes abortion while also prohibiting abortion coverage in plans sold through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Now, with this law, McCrory again breaks a clear promise he made to North Carolina voters.
A majority of Americans, including North Carolinians, respect a woman’s right to make deeply personal pregnancy decisions. They do not believe women should be shamed or providers of safe and legal abortion intimidated by laws like McCrory’s ultrasound measure.
Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic – the political arm of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic – is committed to ensuring that N.C. voters understand the extent of McCrory’s broken promise. State bureaucrats have no business coming between a woman and her doctor and collecting medical records that should be personal and private. N.C. women deserve better than broken promises and blatant disregard for their privacy and personal medical decisions.
The stakes are too high not to speak up and tell politicians like McCrory that we’ve had enough. It’s time to stop politically driven, medically unnecessary legislation. It’s time to hold our elected officials accountable when they put politics before women’s health.
Reed is the executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic.