Abortion Bill Clears State Senate As Protesters Watch

Senate Republicans have given 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.

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.

The bill also would prohibit gender-selective abortions, restrict abortion insurance coverage and require a physician be physically present during an entire surgical abortion.

GOP legislators backing the bill say the measure will make abortion procedures safer for women and bring clinics in line with other medical facilities. Opponents say the changes could close clinic doors and trample on women's rights.

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The North Carolina Senate has tentatively approved legislation that would require abortion clinics to meet new operating standards and require physicians be present when the procedure is performed.

The chamber voted 27-14 Tuesday night for the bill that also would prohibit gender-selective abortions.

A final Senate vote is scheduled for Wednesday. The House also would have to approve the measure. Gov. Pat McCrory said last fall he didn't want to sign additional abortion restrictions into law.

The new legislation would direct state regulators to change clinic rules so they're similar to those for ambulatory surgery centers - a move Planned Parenthood says could shut down providers.

Senate Democrats criticized Republicans for bringing up the bill late on the day before a long July 4 weekend begins.