North Carolina OKs bill for 72-hour wait period for abortion

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would make the state one of several with 72-hour waiting periods for an abortion, sending the measure to the governor's desk.

Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has not said whether he supports the bill. The House and Senate chambers in the GOP-controlled legislature topped the threshold for overcoming a veto, should the governor choose to do so.

Bill supporters have said that increasing the state's waiting period from the current 24 hours will give pregnant women more time to collect information about a difficult decision. The bill's House sponsors also said they hope the measure would lead to fewer abortions.

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North Carolina OKs bill for 72-hour wait period for abortion
Demonstrators rally outside the Legislative office building prior to a House Health Care Committee meeting regarding House Bill 695 in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, July 9, 2013. The committee is reviewing the Senate version of a measure requiring abortion clinics to meet regulations similar to those for ambulatory surgery centers. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Alan Hoyle, of Lincolnton, N.C., stands outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, where the court heard arguments on the regulation of protests outside abortion clinics. The Court seemed likely Wednesday to strike down a state of Massachusetts law setting a 35-foot (10 meter) protest-free zone outside abortion clinics. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Aaron Caldwell yells "shame" as people gather outside the Senate chamber at the state legislature while Senate Republicans gave their final approval to legislation requiring additional rules surrounding abortions in North Carolina, even as hundreds of protesters against the bill watched from the gallery in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, July 3, 2013. The Senate voted 29-12 Wednesday for the measure that would direct regulators to change abortion clinic rules so they're similar to those for ambulatory surgery centers. The bill would still need House approval, which couldn't happen until at least next week. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
People gather outside the state legislature as Senate Republicans gave their final approval to legislation requiring additional rules surrounding abortions in North Carolina, even as hundreds of protesters against the bill watched from the gallery in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday,July 3, 2013. The Senate voted 29-12 Wednesday for the measure that would direct regulators to change abortion clinic rules so they're similar to those for ambulatory surgery centers. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
An anti-abortion activists picks up plastic unborn fetuses during an event to 'beat and hang' Senator Lindsey Graham's, R-SC, effigy for committing 'ethical and political treachery against the babies of North Carolina, and the laws of God' on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July, 29, 2010. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 06: Anti-abortion demonstrator Belinda Yoder, 20, of Charlotte, North Carolina, stands in front of the Supreme Court on the first day of the court's new term October 6, 2008 in Washington, DC. About 20 demostrators gathered at the court to mark 'Pro-Life Memorial Day 2008,' an event sponsored by American Life League and several other organization. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Sally Vest of Charlotte, North Carolina holds an anti-abortion sign with others along Albemarle Road in Charlotte, Saturday, September 1, 2012. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 24: Pro-life activists Gina Fazenbaker (3rd L) of Clarion, Pennsylvania, and Patrick Elms (2nd L) of Raleigh, North Carolina, discuss the abortion issue with pro-choice activists and local residents Polly Stamatopoulos (L) and Lisa King (R) in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after the annual March for Life January 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. The annual march marks the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court that made abortion legal in the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Three brothers from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Monroe, North Carolina holds signs at an anti-abortion rights march and rally on day two of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), in Charlotte, North Carolina September 5, 2012. President Barack Obama's nomination acceptance speech, originally schecduled to take place at the Bank of America Stadium, will now take place indoors at the Time Warner Cable Arena because of concerns about severe weather, the Democratic National Convention Committee announced. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages)
Legislators debate an abortion bill in the North Carolina House of Representatives in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Thursday July 11, 2013. (Chuck Liddy/Charlotte Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, right, waits to speak with House Speaker Thom Tillis, left, in the House chamber at the General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, July 11, 2013. The House debated on the latest version of legislation addressing abortion rules in North Carolina that also seeks to satisfy concerns of Gov. Pat McCrory. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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The bill requires women to talk to a doctor or other qualified professional 72 hours before having an abortion, unless there's a medical emergency.

Three other states have 72-hour waiting periods: Missouri, South Dakota and Utah. Oklahoma's waiting period of that length goes into effect in November.

The bill adds other rules for doctors and clinics that perform abortions and includes several unrelated criminal justice measures.

Democratic lawmakers and other opponents have said there is no medical reason for increasing the wait, and they've complained that Republicans are seeking to add more hurdles for women seeking a procedure that courts have ruled to be constitutionally protected.

Since Republicans took over North Carolina's legislature in 2011, the state has passed several laws aimed at limiting abortions, including the current 24-hour waiting period. Some credit the laws with contributing to the 26 percent decline in the number of abortions in North Carolina since 2010.

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