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New N.C. Abortion Regulations Take Effect

New rules regulating abortion clinics in North Carolina took effect on Oct. 1, two weeks after the state's Rules Review Commission approved the rules without incurring formal objections, AP/WRAL News reports.

New N.C. Abortion Regulations Take Effect

December 21, 2015 — New rules regulating abortion clinics in North Carolina took effect on Oct. 1, two weeks after the state's Rules Review Commission approved the rules without incurring formal objections, AP/WRAL News reports (Robertson, AP/WRAL News, 12/17).

Background

The rules were developed under a 2013 law (SL 2013-366) requiring the state Department of Health and Human Services to assess regulations for abortion providers and propose revised measures relating to safety. The proposed changes were announced in December 2014, and the period for public comment closed Jan. 30.

Abortion-rights supporters opposed the underlying law out of concern that it would result in onerous restrictions that could force clinics to close. However, Democratic state lawmakers and abortion-rights groups said at a press conference in February that the state appears to have taken medical facts and patient safety into account and developed reasonable rules.

Planned Parenthood provided input on the rules. Under the rules, clinics would be required to have a defibrillator on site, a 24-hour phone line to handle calls and quality assurance committees (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/2). The rules also require that clinics have a transportation plan in the event a patient needs to be transferred to a hospital. The rules mandate that clinics have a transfer agreement with a local hospital, but a clinic can meet the requirement if it cannot make such an agreement by providing documentation showing it attempted to make the transfer agreement.

Abortion-Rights Groups Accept Rules

According to AP/WRAL News, abortion-rights supporters said the rules were unnecessary but are at least based on science and not political motivation.

Paige Johnson, vice president for Planned Parenthood of the South Atlantic, said, former DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos "was fair and reasonable in her approach." Johnson noting that she was not speaking on behalf of other clinics, said the Planned Parenthood clinics "are not going to shut [their] doors" under the rules (AP/WRAL News, 12/17).