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by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

PERDUE VETOES WOMAN’S RIGHT TO KNOW ACT

Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed House Bill 854, or the Woman’s Right to Know Act, on Monday. The bill, which passed the NC General Assembly on June 15, requires a 24-hour waiting period and the informed consent of a pregnant woman before an abortion can be performed. Informed consent includes a real-time view of the unborn child and the opportunity to listen to the sound of the child’s heartbeat being made available to the woman.

“This bill is a dangerous intrusion into the confidential relationship that exists between women and their doctors,” Perdue said in a prepared statement. “The bill contains provisions that are the most extreme in the nation in terms of interfering with that relationship.”

NC Democratic Party Chair David Parker criticized the bill, saying it should be called the

“Government Knows Best Act.”

“What it really is — it’s government saying that doctors and patients can’t make decisions for themselves,” Parker said.

The bill states that 24 hours prior to an abortion, a pregnant woman must be informed by a physician or qualified professional in person or on the phone about the medical risks of the abortion procedure, the age of the child at the time of the abortion and whether the physician performing the abortion has liability insurance. Also, minors seeking an abortion will have to gain voluntary and informed written consent from a parent or guardian. There is no exception provided for victims of rape or incest in the proposed bill.

Parker cited the civil remedies portion of the bill as particularly egregious. If a physician fails to go through all the required steps of informed consent, the mother or father of the unborn

child can file a lawsuit seeking damages against the physician. Without an exception for rape or incest, Parker said it’s conceivable that rapists could sue doctors for not following every minute detail of the law.

Perdue agreed with Parker’s position that the bill amounts to state government overstepping its bounds of authority.

“Physicians must be free to advise and treat their patients based on their medical knowledge and expertise and not have their advice overridden by elected officials seeking to impose their own ideological agenda on others,” Perdue said.

Parker said that Perdue has set a record among North Carolina governors for most vetoes during a single legislative session.

“If we had a responsible Republican majority in the General Assembly, she wouldn’t have to do this,” Parker said. — KTB

GREENSBORO COUNCIL APPROVES BUDGET WITHOUT TAX INCREASE

The budget approved by the Greensboro City Council keeps the city’s property tax rate even. The council’s conservative majority pushed through a decrease in the municipal service district tax rate the College Hill Historic District and fended off attempts by Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Vaughan to restore some budget cuts. When the historic district was created in 1980, residents agreed to pay a supplemental of tax of 5 cents to pay for neighborhood improvements. Council’s vote decreases the tax to 1 cent.

The council also overrode a staff recommendation to eliminate a free hour of parking during the day at city-owned downtown parking decks. The city will appropriate $74,000 from the parking fund to make up the difference. The council also voted to eliminate free nighttime parking, reversing a 1998 decision that has been credited with helping to revitalize downtown. The budget decision will primarily affect nightclub and restaurant patrons.

Vaughan sought to restore funding to compensate reserve police officers and for the Greensboro Partnership, the city’s chamber of commerce.

The council’s four conservative members, joined by District 3 Councilman Zack Matheny, stood firm on the reductions. Matheny said the city and its nonprofit partners need to reboot economic development efforts.

“We’re the worst in the state of North Carolina on jobs,” he said. “The bottom. That’s a problem.” — JG

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