UPDATED: Hours after Gov. Pat McCrory threatened to veto a controversial abortion bill unless his concerns about it were addressed, a House committee approved on Wednesday a new version of the bill that apparently answers the governor's questions.
Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Republican from Charlotte, said questions raised by the state Department of Health and Human Services at a committee meeting on Tuesday had been resolved in discussions leading up to Wednesday's meeting.
The main changes were relaxing the proposed standards that abortion clinics would have to meet -- sharing some regulations with ambulatory surgery centers but not making them identical -- and allowing pregnant women to take abortion-inducing medicine at home after taking an initial dose at a clinic under a doctor's supervision.
Most other provisions in the bill were left intact.
After the meeting, Samuelson said she thought the governor's office released the veto threat earlier Wednesday morning because it wasn't certain at that point that the compromise language in the bill would be able to proceed as it did attached to a substitute bill.
The new bill was worked into an unrelated bill and brought up in a House judiciary committee meeting without any advance notice. Samuelson said that was because details were still being worked out on Wednesday morning.
Samuelson also disputed criticism that the House was rushing the bill through without significant public input. She noted that the House could have voted not to concur with the Senate's vote last week approving the bill, and that would have sent the dispute behind closed doors to a conference committee between the two chambers.
Instead, what House leaders are calling an unprecedented committee meeting was held for two hours on Tuesday, where public input was allowed. She said slipping the rewrite into an unrelated bill on Wednesday's committee calendar was necessary to advance the bill as the General Assembly is working toward adjourning. Wednesday's meeting lasted close to two hours.
Still, Democrats on the committee and abortion-rights advocates accused Republicans of abusing the process.
The new bill is SB353.
Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, an Apex Republican involved in the effort, said the new measure mollifies the governor's concerns.
"We want to make sure these procedures are not designed to close down clinics," said Samuelson.
The Sharia law language from the Senate bill is not included in this latest House measure, but the motorcycle safety provisions are still in the bill.
A spokesman for House leadership said it wasn't yet known if the bill would go to the House floor on Wednesday.
-- Craig Jarvis, Annalise Frank and John Frank, staff writers