North Carolina lawmakers override veto of ultrasound abortion law

North Carolina lawmakers have overridden a veto of a bill that requires women to wait 24 hours before an abortion, view an ultrasound of the fetus and listen to its heartbeat.

In a vote of 72-47 on Tuesday, the North Carolina House of Representatives overrode Gov. Bev Perdue's veto in June of the Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know Act. The bill now moves to the state Senate, which needs 30 votes to override the governor’s veto when it considers the measure on Thursday, Reuters reports.

“The Republicans’ social agenda has, with this bill, invaded a woman’s life as never before – by marching straight into her doctor’s office and dictating the medical advice and treatment she receives,” Perdue, a Democrat and North Carolina’s first female governor, said in a statement Tuesday after the House vote.

The bill requires doctors to describe a woman’s fetus to her in detail, including the size of its organs and limbs, before she undergoes the procedure. They must also explain alternatives to abortion and give her a document stating that she is ending “the life of a separate, unique human being.” If a woman refuses to view the ultrasound or listen to the heartbeat, the doctor must make note of her refusal and keep those records for seven years.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, has said it provides crucial information for a woman making an irreversible decision and could save thousands of lives each year. If the North Carolina senate overrides Perdue’s veto, it would take effect in 90 days.

North Carolina is one of four U.S. states that have passed an ultrasound abortion law, along with Arizona, Florida and Texas. During the 2011 legislative session, 14 states have filed a total of 28 ultrasound-related bills, up from nine in 2010, the Huffington Post reports. Twenty-four states require waiting periods.