North Carolina Abortion Bill Passes Senate

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina's Republican-led Legislature has approved new abortion rules that backers say will make the procedure safer, but that critics say aim to restrict the ability of women to have abortions by forcing clinics to close.

The state Senate gave final approval Thursday to a measure empowering the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop rules to regulate abortion clinics based on the same standards as those for outpatient surgery centers.

Abortion-rights groups say the measure could force clinics to make costly changes or risk being shut down.

The debate over the new rules has led to weeks of protests and arrests. Groups supporting abortion rights are trying to pressure Republican Gov. Pat McCrory to veto the measure, citing his campaign vow not to sign any new abortion restrictions into law.

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