Raleigh, N.C. – Senate Bill 353, “Health and Safety Law Changes,” passed the House by a vote of 74-41. The bill modifies laws pertaining to abortion. The abortion provisions were added to SB 353 from HB 695 and amended to address the concerns of Secretary Wos of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
Let’s go over the pro-life provisions of the bill.
Part I. Health Care Conscience Protection
This part of the bill extends conscience protection to all health care providers who object to abortion on moral, ethical, or religious grounds. “Health care provider” means any person who is licensed or certified to practice a health profession or occupation, a licensed health care facility, and a representative or agent of a health care provider.
In May 2011, The Polling Company found that 77% of American adults surveyed said it is either “very” or “somewhat” important to them “that healthcare professionals in the U.S. are not forced to participate in procedures or practices to which they have moral objections.” 16% said it is not important.
Part II. Limits on Abortion Funding Under Health Insurance Plans Offered Through A Health Insurance Exchange or by Local Governments
Section 2(a) of the bill exercises North Carolina’s right under the Affordable Care Act (signed by President Obama) to opt out of covering abortion services under a qualified health plan offered through an Exchange pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. Coverage is allowed for abortions performed when the life of the mother is endangered, or in the cases of rape or incest. Twenty-two other states have already opted-out of this provision of the Affordable Care Act. In 2009, a Civitas poll found that 69 percent of respondents opposed providing coverage for abortion in a health reform plan.
Sections 2(b) and 2(c) prohibit counties and cities from providing abortion coverage for their employees greater than that provided by the State Health Plan. The State Health Plan does not cover abortion, except when the life of the mother is endangered or in cases of rape or incest. The federal government does not allow any funds appropriated to be available to pay for an abortion for its employees, except in the cases of rape, incest, or endangerment of the mother (H.R. 1105, 111th Congress – signed by President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden).
Part III. Clarify Law/Prohibit Sex-Selective Abortion
Prohibits abortion when a significant factor for the decision of the pregnant woman seeking the abortion is related to the sex of the unborn child. It specifically states that there is no “affirmative duty on the physician to inquire as to whether the sex of the unborn child is a significant factor in the pregnant woman seeking the abortion.” Five other states have already passed similar legislation.
A significant majority of people disagree with sex-selective abortion. Most recently, an April 2013 Civitas poll found that 76 percent of North Carolinians disagreed with the statement, “women in NC should be allowed to have an abortion when their primary reason for the abortion is the sex of the unborn child.”
Part IV. Amend Women’s Right to Know Act
Requires that a physician performing a surgical abortion shall be physically present during the performance of the entire abortion procedure. Ten states require the doctor to be present for a surgical abortion.
For a medical abortion, the physician prescribing the inducing abortion drug shall be physically present in the same room when the first drug or chemical is administered to the patient. This is supported by the label of MIFEPREX®, a drug commonly used to induce abortion. It says, “Mifeprex should be prescribed only in a clinic, medical office, or hospital, by or under the supervision of a physician, able to assess the gestational age of an embryo and to diagnose ectopic pregnancies.”
It requires that DHHS have documents available on its website for women who have received a poor prenatal diagnosis. Due to advances in technology, parents today are able to know whether their child has a birth defect long before the child is actually born. Several organizations across the state serve parents facing these diagnoses. These organizations can give parents more information on their baby’s particular disorder and provide further counseling.
It requires that DHHS amend its rules pertaining to abortion clinics. The Department is authorized to apply any requirement for the licensure of ambulatory surgical centers to the standards applicable to abortion clinics. The new rules must address the on-site recovery phase of patient care, protecting patient privacy, providing quality assurance, and ensuring that patients with complications receive necessary medical attention.
The rules for abortion clinics have not been updated since 1994. There have been several instances of DHHS closing clinics for violations of the rules. Most recently the Baker Clinic for Women in Durham was closed based on the finding that the clinic presented an “imminent danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the clients.” Updating the rules will ensure that abortion clinics are held to modern standards. These provisions are common sense provisions that protect the health and safety of women seeking abortions in North Carolina.
For additional information on these issues, the following documents are attached:
States that Have Opted-Out of Abortion Coverage in Exchange (National Right to Life)