Under the Dome

Abortion-rights advocates deliver clinic rules petition to Wos

Abortion-rights supporters on Tuesday delivered a petition with 1,700 signatures calling on the state’s health agency to put women’s health over politics when it drafts proposed new regulations for abortion clinics.

NARAL Pro-Choice N.C. organized the petition drive, staking out a defiant stance against Gov. Pat McCrory and Republicans in the General Assembly for passing a law last year requiring new rules for the clinics.

The petition is addressed to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos.

“Secretary Wos has a duty to make sure that the rulemaking process is about women’s health and safety – not Gov. McCrory’s political agenda,” executive director Suzanne Buckley said in a news release. “If the governor’s administration chooses to put politics first, the consequences for North Carolina women will be devastating. Because of their political agenda, thousands of women and families could lose access to safe and affordable preventative care.”

Backers of the new law say abortion clinics regulations are overdue to be updated. Originally, legislators behind the bill wanted to require the clinics to meet the same standards as same-day surgery centers. But the final bill only requires those standards be required when “applicable.”

DHHS reported to the legislature in December that it is beginning to write a draft of the rules. The agency said it has had feedback from the state Board of Nursing, two representatives from abortion clinics, two ob/gyn physicians and a doctor who performs abortions.

Anti-abortion activists have expressed concern that the agency is going forward without a broad enough range of input. Last month, Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, an Apex Republican, told attendees at a rally in Raleigh they should push for stronger regulations once the draft rules are made public.

DHHS hasn’t estimated when that might happen. It depends on how long it takes to finish the proposed rules, hold public hearings and whether there are objections lodged against the proposal. Ultimately, it is likely that the regulations will return to the General Assembly for approval.