RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A House committee has approved a potential fix for an abortion bill from the Senate to address the concerns of Gov. Pat McCrory about whether it would restrict women's access to obtain the procedure.
The judiciary panel approved a substitute measure Wednesday on a party-line vote in favor of Republicans. Democrats voting no argued the changes would still result in abortion clinics closing and criticized the process that led to the committee vote with no advance notice.
Under the revised bill, physicians must be present during the first administering of the abortion-inducing drug, as opposed to every time, under the Senate's version.
The provisions call for a study to determine the Department of Health and Human Service's needs to adequately enforce the new regulations.
DHHS would also have the choice to apply stricter standards similar to ambulatory medical centers, "while not unduly restricting access."
"The wording has changed but the intent is the same," said Democrat, Rep. Rick Glazier, who voted against the bill in committee.
Despite critics describing the latest reincarnation of the bill as "shameful," and another, "sneak attack," Laura McGee with NC Values Coalition believes the process has been transparent.
"I’m a little perplexed about why there is a debate on process. It’s been open and fair and you’ve even voted on several parts of this legislation,” she said.
"You try to figure out the best way to get to the end result. This is the best way,” said Representative Ruth Samuelson, when asked why provisions were attached to an unrelated bill. "The added benefit was that we were able to have a committee hearing. I was correct in saying had we voted not to concur. This would have been behind closed door conference committee," she said.
Paige Johnson of Planned Parenthood North Carolina was among a hundred or so who sat in the gallery Wednesday, before it was announced the bill would be dealt with Thursday on the House floor.
"They can pull their shenanigans, have committee hearings without public notice, gut motorcycle bills and insert abortion. We're going be here. We are watching. We're not letting them off the hook and we are not going to let Rep. Tillis off the hook for taking this bill up, and not let the Governor off the hook," said Johnson.
McCrory threatened earlier Wednesday to veto the bill that passed the Senate last week if it reached his desk. His problems centered on requirements that clinics be regulated like outpatient surgery centers and doctors must be physically present for abortion procedures.
The bill's next stop is the full House, which convenes at 11 a.m. Thursday. Protesters are expected to gather at the Capitol again before that session.
The Republican and Democrat caucuses have agreed to three hours of debate.
Democrats have agreed not to object to third reading.