Time to think

The Supreme Court ruled way back in 1992, in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, that a 24 hour waiting period to get an abortion did not present an “undue burden” on a woman’s constitutional right for a pre-viability abortion.  They’ve never ruled on whether longer waiting periods present such a burden  A handful of states have added 72 hour waiting times in recent years, and NC looks to be the latest.  Of course, on it’s face, it is absolutely clear that this long waiting period is meant to make it harder to receive an abortion.  But legislators rarely actually admit that, as the Casey ruling defines an undue burden as existing when “purpose or effect [of the regulation] is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.”   A 72 hour wait is clearly an obstacle.  Substantial?  That’s up to judges and as for now, the Supreme Court has not ruled (and there’s no sign its planning on it anytime soon).  Jeffrey Toobin had a nice piece a while back on how this undue burden standard has gradually been undermined.

Given that the current standard is 24 hours, it truly is absurd to suggest that women somehow need (i.e, must have) an additional 48.  But that’s exactly the argument Republican legislators have been making.

Oh, and if that’s not enough, in an incredibly cynical and underhanded maneuver (not that Democrats have never done similar things, but still wrong) they have tied lies to help protect women from actual threats to this abortion legislation:

Senate leaders have concocted a politically volatile bill that combines measures further restricting access to abortion – measures that sharply divide Republicans and Democrats at the General Assembly – with bills that make statutory rape laws stricter and protect victims of domestic violence…

However, Jackson said, blending abortion measures with hard-to-oppose legislative language is aimed at putting Democrats in a tough political spot. If they vote against imposing more abortion restrictions, they will also be voting against laws to protect victims of domestic violence and restrict the movement of sex offenders…

The following are among the non-abortion provisions in the bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee added to the bill Wednesday:

  • Requiring sex offenders who committed crimes in other states or under federal law to stay away from premises in North Carolina that are frequented by children.
  • Raising the penalties for committing an assault in the presence of a minor.
  • Clarifying the laws surrounding statutory rape.
  • Creating a program to make it easier for women to file domestic violence protection orders.

As for putting all these items in the abortion bill?  Oh, that was just an accident.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, monitored the meeting even though he is not on the committee. He denied Jackson’s assertion that the bill was designed to put Democrats in a hard spot.

“That’s just how the thing ended up being thrown together,” Apodaca said.

Riiiiiight.  Do they just have to lie to our faces like that?  Anyway, wrong all around.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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