Bills Will Strengthen NC’s Pro-Life Laws
State lawmakers have introduced two major pieces of legislation designed to enhance existing pro-life laws and to strengthen protections for women seeking abortion in North Carolina. While the House and Senate bills differ in a number of ways, both measures build upon the important pro-life gains made during the past two legislative sessions. They also include provisions to address deficiencies in the abortion clinic regulation amendments proposed by the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in December 2014. (See our previous story on the proposed abortion clinic regulations.)
Senators Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), and Warren Daniel (R-Burke) are the primary sponsors of Senate Bill 604-Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015, which was introduced on March 26. This bill would:
- Require annual inspections of all clinics certified to perform abortions in the state, including ambulatory surgical centers. This is an important revision to DHHS’s proposed abortion clinic regulations, which only require that abortion clinics “be subject” to annual inspections.
- Prohibit abortion clinics from employing individuals less than 18 years of age. The proposed abortion clinic regulations would allow clinics to hire employees as young as 16.
- Direct abortion clinics to have a written transfer agreement with a hospital for patients requiring emergency care. This is an important revision to address a loophole in the proposed abortion clinic regulations that allows a clinic to be exempt from having a transfer agreement if they can demonstrate they attempted to obtain one.
- Require abortionists who perform an abortion after the 16th week of pregnancy to record and report to the DHHS “the method used by the physician to determine the probable gestational age of the unborn child at the time the procedure is to be performed; the results of the methodology, including the measurements of the unborn child; and an ultrasound image of the unborn child that depicts the measurements.”
- Require abortionists who perform an abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy to record and report to DHHS “the findings and analysis on which the physician based the determination that continuance of the pregnancy would threaten the life or gravely impair the health of the woman.”
- Appropriate $500,000 for the “planning and implementation” of a Perinatal Resource Center at UNC Chapel Hill “to develop a state-of-the-art perinatal resource center to serve families with complications detected by prenatal diagnosis.”
In the House, Reps. Jacqueline Schaffer (R-Mecklenburg), Pat McElraft (R-Carteret), Rena Turner (R-Iredell), and Susan Martin (R-Wilson) are the primary sponsors of House Bill 465-Clarify and Modify Certain Abortion Laws, which was introduced on April 1. In addition to the reporting requirements included in SB 604 outlined above, this bill would:
- Require that only a licensed obstetrician or gynecologist may perform an abortion in North Carolina.
- Extend the informed consent waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours to obtain an abortion in North Carolina.
- Prohibit medical school departments at UNC Chapel Hill and East Carolina University from permitting “an employee to perform or supervise the performance of an abortion as part of the employee’s official duties,” except in cases of rape or incest, or where the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother.
- Prohibit state trust fund dollars, moneys of the University of North Carolina Health Care System, or any “State facility created, owned controlled, or managed by The University of North Carolina Health Care System,” to be used for the performance of abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother.
NC Family will provide more information and analysis of both SB 604 and HB 465 as these bills progress through the General Assembly.