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Abortion Waiting Period Bill Goes to McCrory; Lawmakers Override 'Ag-Gag' Veto

Davie Hinshaw
Charlotte Observer

The North Carolina General Assembly has passed a bill that requires a 72-hour waiting period for abortions.

The state House gave final approval to the bill Wednesday, sending it to Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's desk. The bill adds other rules for doctors and clinics that perform abortions and includes several unrelated criminal justice measures.

Three other states have 72-hour waiting periods: Missouri, South Dakota and Utah. Oklahoma's waiting period of that length goes into effect in November.

Since Republicans took over North Carolina's legislature in 2011, the state has passed several laws aimed at limiting abortions, including the current 24-hour waiting period.

Ag-Gag Veto Override

House lawmakers voted 79-36 to override the Governor’s veto of a bill that will allow employers to sue workers who secretly take pictures or record audio in their place of business. The Senate had already voted to override the veto, which means the bill will become law.

Those in favor of House Bill 405, known as the Ag-Gag bill, say it's needed to protect businesses, especially the state’s agricultural industry, from those who seek employment with a company to document practices they find objectionable. Rep John Szoka, a bill  sponsor, says the legislation does not affect whistle-blowers, who he says can still report wrongdoing.

"I don’t want to discourage any good employees of any industry from reporting illegal activities to the proper authorities and not the media and not private special interest group organizations," Szoka said on the House floor.

Animal rights groups say their undercover picture-taking and recordings of practices they find abusive at poultry and cattle operations are the target of the legislation.

Rep. Pricey Harrison, who voted to sustain the governor’s veto, says people working at these types of operations, in addition to day care centers or nursing homes, might hesitate in collecting evidence of abuses for fear of being fined $5,000 a day under the legislation.

"Upton Sinclair may not have been able to publish The Jungle. He got his job as an undercover journalist disclosing the horrors taking place in meat-packing warehouses at the turn of the (20th) century."

The bill takes effect January 1.

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