Under the Dome

NC skirted abortion rules that Supreme Court struck down

Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down abortion clinic regulations in Texas doesn’t affect North Carolina, which updated its own standards for abortion clinics last year.

Unlike Texas, North Carolina doesn’t require that clinics comply with regulations as strict as ambulatory surgical centers. Also, North Carolina requires doctors to apply for admitting privileges at a local hospital but does not require that they be admitted.

The General Assembly fought over clinic regulations in 2013. Abortion opponents argued for provisions like Texas has, saying women’s safety was at stake. Advocates for abortion rights said stringent restrictions were really about trying to force clinics out of operation.

After public input, the McCrory administration came up with new regulations, which were adopted in September and took effect in October. Abortion opponents complained that their viewpoint wasn’t adequately represented in the process.

A law passed last year requires that doctors send to state health regulators ultrasound images for women seeking abortions. It also requires that abortion clinics be inspected annually, establishes a 72-hour waiting period, and requires doctors provide data to state regulators about second-trimester abortions they perform. A previous law requiring ultrasound images be described to patients was ruled unconstitutional.

“The Court’s ruling today sacrifices the safety of women and their unborn babies for the abortion industry’s greed by allowing abortion businesses to continue their treacherous practices of operating by sub-standard medical practices,” N.C. Values Coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald said in a statement. “Requiring hospital admitting privileges for abortion doctors and requiring that abortion clinics meet the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers is both reasonable and necessary to protect women’s health, but the Supreme Court is setting up a lower standard of care for these clinics just because they perform abortions.”

Jenny Black, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, issued this reaction:

“We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for their decision affirming women’s access to safe, legal abortion. Yet as we celebrate today’s victory, it does not undo the past five years of damage and restrictions already passed into law in our own state by anti-abortion politicians.

“No woman or doctor should be shamed, pressured, or punished for receiving or providing essential medical care. We will continue to fight restrictions on safe, legal abortion on behalf of our patients in North Carolina. A woman’s right to make decisions about her health, family and future should never be dependent on her zip code.”

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO

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