Only days after many legislative sessions resumed in 2013, politicians began working to further restrict women’s access to birth control, funding for cancer screenings for low-income women, access to safe and legal abortion, and full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, signaling that 2013 may be even worse than the record-breaking years of 2011 and 2012 for state legislation that limits access to women’s health care. North Carolina is no different than these states.
Indeed, the reproductive health restrictions introduced in North Carolina fit the national trends this year: nonsurgical abortion restrictions, targeted restrictions on abortion providers, sex education restrictions, abortion bans and refusal of medical care.
Planned Parenthood is fighting back every step of the way – and North Carolinians have been fighting back with us. Recently, hundreds of North Carolinians rallied against these restrictions and have sent 242 letters, 4,660 emails & made 1,270 calls to their legislators reminding them that they are not in another woman’s shoes – and therefore should not make personal, private health care decisions for her.
What follows below is a roundup of top threats to women’s health in North Carolina and where they fit in the national landscape. Governor Pat McCrory has said he doesn’t support more abortion restrictions in the state, and women’s health supporters are encouraging him to keep his campaign promise if any of these bills reach his desk.
Admitting Privileges Restrictions
ENACTED 2013: AL, ND
TO WATCH 2013: NC, SC, TX
Enacted 2012: AZ, MS, TN; Enacted 2011: KS
Opponents of safe and legal abortion have been pushing for admitting privileges requirements as part of a strategy to further restrict a woman’s access to abortion. Having admitting privileges is not a requirement for being a licensed medical provider and is not a designation of the quality of a provider. An admitting privileges requirement gives hospitals complete decision-making power over whether physicians who provide abortion will receive admitting privileges. The reality is, a hospital’s decision makers will often be driven by ideology and politics — which can make it virtually impossible for abortion providers to receive admitting privileges.
The only remaining health center providing abortions in Mississippi was on the verge of closing because of this requirement after a law was passed there in 2012. The law was recently enjoined by a federal district court because it would have shut down the state’s only provider of safe and legal abortions.
North Carolina’s Senator Warren Daniel, a sponsor of North Carolina’s enjoined 2011 mandatory ultrasound law, introduced a bill (Senate Bill 308) that would require doctors providing abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. Senator Daniel evidently did not do his due diligence on the bill. When asked about the provision’s impact in North Carolina, Sen. Daniel told local media he hadn't thought about it: "I guess I don't know exactly how it will affect clinics across the state," he said.
Non-surgical Abortion Restrictions
Ban on Non-surgical Abortion via Telemedicine
TO WATCH: AR, LA, MO, MS, NC, TX
Enacted 2012: MI, OK, TN, WI; Enacted 2011: AZ, KS, NE, ND, OK, SD, TN
Safe and legal in the United States for over a decade, non-surgical abortiongives a woman the option of a more private and what may feel like a less invasive method of ending a pregnancy, in a setting in which she feels most comfortable. In recent years, state legislatures devoted significant attention to creating restrictions on non-surgical abortion, which has forced some women to have a surgical procedure when they would have chosen non-surgical abortion.
People in rural areas often have to drive very long distances to see a doctor in person. Health care centers, particularly in these areas, increasingly use telemedicine services for patients to receive quality medical care. Some opponents of safe and legal abortion call bills that ban non-surgical abortion via telemedicine, which is as safe and effective as the process of an in-person meeting with a doctor, some of their “favorite strategies.”
Included in Senator Warren Daniel’s Senate Bill 308 are provisions that could seriously restrict a woman’s access to safe and legal non-surgical abortion in North Carolina, including a ban on the delivery of non-surgical abortion via telemedicine.
Restrictions on Sex Education
DEFEATED 2013: ND
ENACTED 2013: KS
AWAITING EXECUTIVE ACTION: MT
TO WATCH 2013: AR, NC, OH, TX
Enacted 2012: TN, WI; Vetoed 2012: UT
Nearly 750,000 teenagers in the United States will become pregnant this year alone, and half of all sexually active people will have a sexually transmitted infection by age 25. Clearly, American teens need to know how to make responsible decisions and stay healthy. Evidence shows the best way to help them is to give them comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education. The vast majority of Americans support sex education; nevertheless, states are considering new restrictions on sex education programs that can end promising teen pregnancy prevention programs or require misleading information be included in curricula.
A bill introduced on February 26 (Senate Bill 132), if enacted, would impose a requirement on North Carolina’s sex education curricula, that students be told of a risk of prematurity in subsequent births after an abortion, despite consensus from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Center for Health Statistics, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the World Health Organization that there is no such link.
“Biased” Selection Bans
ENACTED 2013: ND, KS
TO WATCH 2013: FL, MO, NC
Enacted 2011: AZ
Some states have introduced bills this session that ban abortions based on sex, race, and/or a genetic abnormality. The world’s leading human rights organizations, including the World Health Organization, have asserted that these bills do not address the social, legal, economic, and political conditions that promote discrimination. What’s more, these bills impermissibly interfere with a woman’s right to make personal decisions in conjunction with her family, faith, and her doctor and can strip nonjudgmental, high-quality care from women in need. These bills are also a dangerous intrusion in the doctor-patient relationship by requiring doctors to become investigators and patients their suspects. North Carolina’s bill is sponsored by Ruth Samuelson.
Refusal to Provide General Medical or Reproductive Health Services
ENACTED 2013: KY
TO WATCH 2013: MI, MO, NC, NV
Enacted 2012: KS; Defeated 2012: ND; Enacted 2011: UT
Freedom of religion is important to all Americans — that is why it is safely enriched in the U.S. Constitution. However, state legislatures are considering proposals that could allow health care providers to use religion to discriminate against patients. Representative Jacqueline Schaffer sponsored a bill that is so broad even pharmacists could refuse to fill a woman’s birth control prescriptions in North Carolina.