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Planned Parenthood Launches Campaign Against N.C. Abortion Law's Ultrasound Provision

January 4, 2016 — A Planned Parenthood group last week launched a campaign to oppose parts of a North Carolina antiabortion-rights law (SL 2015-62) that took effect Jan. 1, the AP/Lexington Herald-Leaderreports (Robertson, AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/30/15).

Background

Among several other provisions, the law imposes a 72-hour mandatory delay before abortion and requires physicians to provide the state Department of Health and Human Services with information about abortions performed after the 16th week of pregnancy. Specifically, for abortions and miscarriages after 16 weeks' gestation, providers are required to submit an ultrasound, the measurements of the fetus and information on how the provider determined fetal age.

Further, the law requires additional documentation for abortions or miscarriages occurring after 20 weeks' gestation to demonstrate that continuing the pregnancy would have threatened the woman's life or substantially impaired her health. The state prohibits abortion after 20 weeks in other circumstances.

According to the law, collected data will remain confidential, anonymous and will be used "for statistical purposes only" (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/29/15). The ultrasound and documentation would not be categorized as public records, and the files would be destroyed after two years, the AP/Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

Campaign Details

Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic launched the campaign, which specifically targets the provision requiring providers to submit ultrasound images to the State Center for Health Statistics (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/30/15). According to Planned Parenthood, 1,300 people have signed a petition urging McCrory to "put a stop to this harmful law immediately."

PPVSA Director Melissa Reed said the requirements are "medically unnecessary and purely politically driven." She continued, "The true intent of the law is clear -- to shame women and intimidate the doctors [who] care for them," noting that it is "completely inappropriate" for the state to demand access to patients' personal medical data (Campbell, Raleigh News & Observer, 12/30/15).

Further, Reed noted that the state already could review such information during annual clinic inspections and that abortion providers already are required to provide statistical information. "They already have access," she said, adding, "There is no reason for us to have to send them to the state for stockpiling and storage" (Leslie, "NC Capitol," WRAL, 12/30/15).