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People wishing to speak at a Raleigh public hearing on new abortion legislation in North Carolina lined legislative hallways earlier this week. The proposed legislation has garnered debate among WNC lawmakers and their constituents. Lucy Butcher, of The Carolina Mercury, for Carolina Public Press

A small number of Western North Carolina state legislators are active users of social media, but some of them are engaged in big online debates about controversial abortion legislation that is moving rapidly through the General Assembly.

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The latest version of the proposed law, approved yesterday by a state Senate committee and now called “Health and Safety Law Changes,” is slated for consideration today in the state House as SB 353.

A prior version, dubbed the “Family, Faith and Freedom Protection Act,” was passed by the Senate July 3 and instantly generated controversy, both for its substance and for the way it was introduced. It was bundled with so-called anti-Sharia law measures, late in the day on July 2 and late in the legislative session. The new version is bundled with motorcycle-safety provisions.

In a statement issued yesterday morning, Gov. Pat McCrory said he would veto the prior version unless it underwent “significant changes and clarifications” advised by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

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The new version of the bill changed a key plank of the prior one that would have directed the DHHS to require that abortion providers meet standards similar to those required at ambulatory surgical centers. Under the new language, the department would be authorized to aim for that, but only “while not unduly restricting access” to abortion services.

Proponents of the bill say its abortion-related provisions are intended to make abortions safer. Opponents say it is designed to restrict access to abortion under the guise of safety rules.

Below is a sampling of the online debate.

http://storify.com/cpublicpress/social-media-comments-on-the-abortion-bill-by-wnc

 

Jon Elliston

Jon Elliston is the lead contributing open government reporter at Carolina Public Press. Contact him at jelliston@carolinapublicpress.org.

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