An abortion bill that would require women in North Carolina to wait 72 hours before having the procedure cleared the state Legislature on Wednesday and is now heading to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.
The bill, which triples the state's mandatory 24-hour waiting period, cleared the house by a vote of 71 to 43. Under the law, doctors would be required to counsel patients on alternative options at least 72 hours before an abortion could take place.
If McCrory signs the bill into law, North Carolina would become the fifth state to require that women receive counseling from a healthcare provider three days before receiving an abortion. Missouri, Utah and South Dakota also impose 72-hour delays, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed similar legislation into law last month.
The passing of the legislation drew quick rebukes from reproductive rights activists, who called on McCrory to swiftly veto the bill.
“A woman is more than capable of taking the time she needs to make her own personal medical decisions without the government forcing her to endure an unnecessary and potentially harmful delay,” Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement.
Abortion rights advocates say mandatory wait times place an increasing hardship on women by forcing them to incur the cost of additional trips to and from health clinics, and argued that delaying an abortion can actually lead to health risks by prolonging a pregnancy.
"No one should be forced to delay healthcare because politicans have the audacity to presume to know what is best for a woman and her family," Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.
Anti-abortion groups praised the Legislature for its swift passage of the bill. The North Carolina Family Policy Council said the measure will "enact a myriad of provisions designed to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of women and children," in a message posted to its website Wednesday afternoon.
Los Angeles Times staff writer Maria L. La Ganga contributed to this report.
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