We trust people to make the reproductive health care decisions that are best for themselves and their families. That includes the decision to have an abortion. Anyone seeking abortion care shouldn’t face judgment, shame or unnecessary delays in accessing that care, and nobody should be lied to about their health care.
Anti-choice lawmakers think they know what’s right for everyone, especially for women. They force their opinions on those seeking abortion care by requiring doctors to give patients anti-choice propaganda full of inaccuracies about pregnancy and the dangers of abortion.
These laws are insulting to women—implying they can’t make decisions for themselves—and intrude on the doctor-patient relationship.
Anti-choice politicians also have passed laws that force patients to wait before having an abortion. These laws usually require patients to make one visit to the doctor and then wait at least 24 hours before they can go back to have the procedure.
In North Carolina, the General Assembly passed a law in 2011 requiring patients seeking abortion to wait for 24 hours after the first appointment they have with an abortion clinic. In 2015, that was increased to 72 hours, one of only five states with that long a waiting period. A recent study showed that waiting periods had little impact on a women’s decision to have an abortion.
Biased counseling and mandatory delay laws are usually paired. In North Carolina, the initial waiting period was passed in 2011 with a law that requires abortion providers to read a government-written script that contains medical inaccuracies in an attempt to shame and scare patients. Politicians say they want to make sure women have time to think about their decision, but make no mistake: These laws are really about shaming patients and making it harder to access abortion.
Mandatory delay laws disproportionately affect low-income people and those in rural areas. Many families live hours from the nearest abortion clinic. Attending just one appointment at a clinic often means taking time off work (frequently without pay), finding child care, and making a long and expensive journey by car or bus. Mandating a delay and a second appointment further increases the costs, lost wages and time involved. It also leads women to have abortions later in pregnancy, which can carry greater risk as well as cost.
Like any other patient, a woman considering abortion should receive full and unbiased information from her doctor about her medical options. No one should not be subjected to biased propaganda and be forced to wait unnecessarily before accessing the health care they need.