RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – This comes as no big surprise, but U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning has waded into the discussion about a total abortion ban proposed Wednesday in the North Carolina House.

Manning, a Democrat from Greensboro who is in her second term representing the 6th Congressional District, described House Bill 533 as “disturbing legislation” designed “to control women’s bodies.”

Rep. Kathy Manning, D-N.C., center, accepts applause as author of the Right to Contraception Act, as she is recognized by, from left, Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during an event with Democratic women House members ahead of the vote on the at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C., center) accepts applause as author of the Right to Contraception Act, as she is recognized by, from left, Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) and former Nancy Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) during an event in July. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

HB  533 was filed by state Rep. Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort), Rep. Ben Moss (R-Moore), Rep. Edward Goodwin (R-Chowan) and Rep. Kevin Crutchfield (R-Cabarrus), and it would ban abortion processes except in cases of a spontaneous abortion of the fetus or an ectopic pregnancy.

Crutchfield’s legislative aide on Monday told WGHP that he no longer is a sponsor, and his name has been removed from the bill in the legislative database. The spokesperson said that Crutchfield removed his name the day the bill was announced, “because he does not agree with the language in the bill.”

The bill includes specific medical exceptions but creates felony charges for any action prohibited in the bill that “results in the death of an unborn child.” It specifies civil penalties and disciplinary action that includes the removal of medical licenses.

“The proposed North Carolina abortion ban, introduced by four male Republican politicians [now three], would jeopardize the health of millions of North Carolinians, strip women and girls of their freedoms, and place politicians in the middle of medical decisions they are not qualified to make,” Manning said in a statement released by her staff. “Moreover, this bill criminalizes women and the doctors who provide them care, thereby discouraging them from providing women the care they need.

“This disturbing legislation is another in a series of bills introduced by radical Republican politicians in the wake of the Dobbs decision. Their prime intention is to control women’s bodies, strip them of their freedoms, and deny them critical medical care – I will not stand for it.” 

Republicans in the NC General Assembly have been discussing tightening the state’s current 20-week abortion limit, which was reinstated by U.S. District Judge William Osteen Jr. in August, after the U.S. Supreme Court in its Boggs decision in June overturned Roe v. Wade and returned lawmaking about abortion to state control. Osteen ended a stay that had been in place since the law was passed in 1973, right after Roe was implemented.

Bill refiled in Congress

Manning has worked in Congress to help protect access to abortion by sponsoring legislation that passed the House and would protect access to reproductive healthcare. Just last week Democrats in the NC House filed a bill to eliminate various restrictions on abortions.

Polls, such as a WGHP/The Hill/Emerson College Poll last summer, typically show that voters (39% in that poll) think the North Carolina General Assembly should make it easier to access abortion. Just less than 1 in 3 (29%) said lawmakers shouldn’t do anything. A Meredith College Poll earlier this year showed that most wanted to keep the law as it is.

On Thursday Manning said she joined Democrats to reintroduce the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” which would codify abortion rights on the federal level.

“I’m joining over 200 of my colleagues in the House in cosponsoring and reintroducing the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023, legislation that would stop North Carolina Republicans from implementing this bill by codifying the right to access abortion into federal law,” Manning said. “I will continue to use my voice in Congress to protect the health and freedoms of the women and girls of North Carolina.”  

The NC bill

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said last fall that he was looking for a path to something narrower. He said he doesn’t think the 20-week ban is sufficient, although it is narrower than the roughly 24-to-28-week limit that Roe had stipulated. Anti-abortion activists often misstate those limits as being open-ended.


Greensboro News

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Rep. Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) (NCGA)
Rep. Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) (NCGA)

The level to which legislative leadership contributed to this draft is unclear. The bill is so new that it has not been read into the House or assigned to a committee. Kidwell did not respond immediately to emailed questions about how he arrived at the language in the bill.

But Moss, who is running for the GOP nomination for commissioner of Labor, did release a statement: “If you are reading this, you have been blessed with the gift of life. Every human life has value from the womb to the tomb, and I am thrilled to introduce this legislation that will defend the dignity and sanctity of every person. I will continue to promote a culture of life and ensure that every child, regardless of circumstance, is given the chance to flourish and thrive.”

Any abortion bill that passed through the General Assembly would be vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper. The GOP has the votes automatically to override a veto n the Senate but not necessarily in the House.