July 11, 2014 — North Carolina health care officials have not finished drafting abortion clinic regulations authorized under a 2013 state law (SB 353), leaving many abortion providers unsure how the rules could potentially affect them, the AP/Virginian-Pilot reports (Ferral, AP/Virginian-Pilot, 7/9).
The expansive antiabortion-rights measure, signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) in July 2013, allows the state Department of Health and Human Services to "apply any requirement" for ambulatory surgical centers to abortion clinics, so long as the regulations do not impede access to abortion.
DHHS was required to provide an update on its progress in developing the rules by Jan. 1, but there is no deadline to create the rules for abortion clinics (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/28).
According to the AP/Virginian-Pilot, just one of the state's clinics currently meets the ambulatory surgical center requirements, meaning that the remaining 15 clinics will likely have to make changes.
Abortion-Rights Groups 'In the Dark'
Abortion-rights supporters are "in the dark" about what will be included in the new regulations or when they will be released, the AP/Virginian-Pilot reports.
Paige Johnson, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, said, "The question is, what will DHHS come up with? Will these be regulations based on women's health ... or will these regulations be politically motivated?" She added, "Everybody is waiting to see what they're going to do."
However, Johnson said she is encouraged by the fact that rules are being drafted by health officials and not lawmakers.
Planned Parenthood will host a "Too Far Tillis" rally on Thursday night to mark the law's one-year anniversary and encourage residents to vote against state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) -- who helped pass the measure -- in his bid for the U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, DHHS said in an email that it is following the standard rulemaking procedures. "We are fully committed to complying with (the law) in that any revised regulations will address patient safety and privacy without unduly restricting access," the agency said (AP/Virginian Pilot, 7/9).