Woman's Right to Know Act: a legislative history.

Author:Stam, Paul
Position:IV. Committee Evidence Pro and Con Testifying in Support Danelle Hallenbeck through V. Conclusion, p. 35-67

Danelle Hallenbeck

I am Danelle Hallenbeck. And I am one of those persons that had an abortion with Planned Parenthood in Chapel Hill in 1993. And it wasn't anything like they just said it was. I asked about how far along I was in my pregnancy at 8 weeks. They told me that it was only tissue and that it would be over before I knew it. I was not informed of any possible complications, physical or psychological, that may occur. I was not even informed who the doctor was. I never even spoke to him. He slid in the room and performed the procedure and he slid out immediately after he was finished. And the only words that he said to me--while he was doing the procedure--was 'you are further along than you thought.' Those words haunt me to this day. Little did I know, when I chose to have an abortion, I traded convenience for torture, love for pain, joy for shame, and I found a weight of guilt that slowly corrodes away at your soul. For 12 years I lived with this secret of torment and sorrow for I was too ashamed to tell anyone I had an abortion. I hated myself. I felt undeserving of anything good. Even life. I was given all kinds of anti-depressants and they helped for a short time, but that pain just kept seeping out. The guilt for my abortion was so great, I immediately married the man I had the abortion with and got pregnant a couple months later. I developed full placenta previa with that pregnancy and had to stay in the hospital for 30 days and my son was born and delivered premature by a C-section. And I thoroughly believe that the complications from that pregnancy were a direct result from my abortion. Since then I have learned of several studies that actually link previous abortions to premature births. I am the former leader of North Carolina Operation Out-Cry, which is part of the Justice Foundation. And we have collected affidavits from women who have been hurt by abortion. I have over 2,000 of them with me today of women who testified a sworn legal testimony that they were hurt by abortion. (80) Monsignor David Brockman

Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh

Today, among the many great advances in medical science is that it is possible for a pregnant woman to see an ultrasound image of her child within her. In effect, these ultrasound images provide a window into the womb. Thus, if the woman is denied information such as the opportunity for an ultrasound and the information relevant to her decision such as provided for in this bill, she stands little chance of being able to make a fully informed choice. Betty Rogosich

CEO of Birthchoice Pregnancy Center

We serve the eastern half of North Carolina. And we have been doing that since 1971. Our mission is to empower women to make informed decisions by offering help, hope, and education. We are non-judgmental in giving women the facts by offering free ultrasounds, information on fetal development, abortion, adoption, and parenting. Just yesterday, a mother brought her 15 year old daughter in for an ultrasound before going in for an abortion. She saw her 16 week baby moving arms, legs, and bodies in her uterus. They decided not to abort and they are now considering adoption. Later, privately, the mother disclosed that she had an abortion as a teen when she also was 16 weeks pregnant. She was not given any information about the development of her baby and has suffered years of regret. She is now seeking counseling to address the abortion experience. A 24 hour waiting period would surely have helped her to weigh the information to make an informed decision. At Birth Choice approximately 65% of women who see their babies on ultrasound change their minds about aborting. Sylinthia Stewart

I am post-aborter. I am post-aborter five times. I am not ashamed. I have never been ashamed.... Abortion is a racist act. I do not care what anybody else says. Every time I went for an abortion I was never told the information. And I have an education. You know what my education was, when I went for my abortion at Planned Parenthood, a doctor's office? 'Do you want it?' I heard three or four white women, yes, I said it, come up here and say 'ok, we need to be educated.' Black women need to be educated. We are the ones they are hiding the truth from. I am sorry about your circumstance, but that does not give anybody else the right to hide it from me. I needed the education. They did not give me the education. They ask you if you want it. That is it. This bill will protect black women.... I am sorry about the extreme circumstances but the women who actually have abortions need more information. We need the ultrasound. Right now I am fighting to get the records, to get the information that I should have been given in the beginning. (81) Testifying in Opposition

Janet Comb

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina

We have health centers in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Fayetteville. I have been CEO of this Planned Parenthood for almost 30 years... One of the things that we have started doing about 12 years ago, when we first started providing abortions, is in our recovery rooms we have books where women can write their stories. This one was written in August of 2010 in our Fayetteville health center. 'Today was the hardest day of my life. I made a decision to end a life before it even began. I feel bad, but I know it is the right decision. Lord, please forgive me, you know my heart better than I do. Thank you, Lord, for my daughter's survival after her birth. I could not bear to go through that again. To every woman who reads this: just know that we have a forgiving Lord and everything is going to be ok. Prayer is the key. Love your family with all your heart, and live life with no regrets, and make sure you laugh as much as possible.' This is a really typical letter for many of our patients. One thing that folks do not realize is that about 60% of the women who have abortions have children. And many of these women are making a decision based on what they think is best for them and for their family. Let me read just one more ... again, from Fayetteville, December 4th. 'It was a very hard decision to make. I know God forgives me for doing this. I did not want to have another baby considering I just had one in March. I thought of the pros and cons--I'm going through a financial struggle right now and may be going through a divorce soon. I was just told I was deploying in February. I thought about it, and I need the deployment. Financially it will help me so much. I want my daughter to have everything she wants. I want to pay off my debt so that I can provide for her. Plus, I'm guaranteed a promotion if I go meaning I get a $300 pay raise. It also gives me a chance to start college.' So you can see that these are real women and their lives matter. Dr. David Grimes

North Carolina physician since 1974

Board-certified in Obstetrics and Genecology and in Preventative Medicine

I am one of a few number of doctors in the US to be board-certified both in obstetrics and genecology and also in preventative medicine. I spent nine years as an epidemiologist at the CDC Atlanta studying the safety of pregnancy and its outcomes. I am here this morning to speak against this bill because it's bad from start to finish. It starts by demeaning physicians in the very caption 'woman's right to know' which implies some vast conspiracy on the part of us doctors--depriving women of important information. Because of the controversial nature of abortion, we in the medical profession have gone to great lengths to make sure that women get full, informed, uniform consent--far more than women get with other common operations including hysterectomy or mastectomy. I would agree that women should know more about the risks of pregnancy, about which they know little. 6 million women a year become pregnant and do not really understand the risk to their health and life indeed. We have known for 30 years some CDC data that having an abortion is vastly safer than having a baby. And I brought for the concern of the committee the most recent CDC data. In 2006, the CDC data show that having a baby is 12 times more likely to result in the death of the woman than having an abortion. And from 2008 here is the most recent CDC data on comparative risks of complications--and the differential was three-fold. And with regard to the 24-hour waiting period, we have known since the 1970s that one of the most important risk factors for complications is length of pregnancy. And by shifting this to later stages it both adds to the cost and adds to the risk involved. And again, more CDC data for the committee. This was published last year, the CDC data from the University of Rochester analysis showing that in states in the United States with a 94 hour waiting period, it doubles the rate doubles the rate of unintended births among teens, especially black teens, with the terrible economic and educational consequences of that. (82) This bill is also unethical. Medical practice and public health practice is based on three fundamental pillars: beneficence, autonomy, and justice. Beneficence means that what we do is for the welfare of our patients. Autonomy means that we make a choice based on the best available evidence. Justice means equitable distribution of resources. This violates all three. It will drive up costs and hurt women's health. It's an unwarranted intrusion into the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship which the Supreme Court recognized in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 as privileged. We do not need help in having these discussions, especially with persons who are not medically knowledgeable. For example, requiring an ultrasound is totally gratuitous. We do not need it. It's like saying every woman needs a chest x-ray before she has the operation. This bill will hurt everyone financially, especially women who are poor and live in rural parts of this state. (83) Sarah Preston


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