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What is the new abortion ban law in NC?

The new law reduces the time allowed for an abortion from 20 weeks to 12 weeks and requires an in-person counseling appointment at least three days prior to the abortion procedure and a follow-up appointment for medication abortion patients 7 to 14 days after the abortion. 

Key facts about Senate Bill 20

Senate Bill 20 bans abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy in most circumstances. Additionally, it creates more barriers for patients seeking abortion across the board. The ACLU of North Carolina and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic consulted medical and legal experts to analyze the bill language in an attempt to understand its impact on health care providers and patients. Here is all the information:

When is abortion legal in North Carolina?
  • In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy for nearly any reason (abortions for reasons of sex, race or Down Syndrome diagnosis are prohibited)
  • During any point in the pregnancy if there is a medical emergency that places the woman at risk of death or risk of loss of a major bodily function. A medical emergency doesn’t include psychological or mental health emergencies.
  • In cases of rape or incest through the 20th week of pregnancy
  • When a life-limiting fetal anomaly has been diagnosed through the 24th week of pregnancy
Are there any reasons where I will be allowed an abortion after 12 weeks?

Yes. There are several exceptions allowed under this new law which permit abortions after 12 weeks. They are:

  • In cases of rape or incest, an abortion is allowed through the 20th week of pregnancy.
  • If you have received a diagnosis of a life-limiting fetal anomaly, an abortion is allowed through the 24th week of pregnancy.
  • If your life is in danger or you face a severe health risk, an abortion is allowed at any point. 
Must I report my rape to the police before I can get an abortion?

The new law does not require that you report the rape to police before you can get an abortion. If you are past 12 weeks, you are only able to obtain an abortion because of rape in a hospital. Abortion providers are required to report all abortions after 12 weeks but your name or identifying information will never be reported. Your information will remain confidential. It is your decision only whether to report rape to law enforcement.

How is gestational age counted? Is that from LMP or two weeks later at conception?

We begin counting your pregnancy weeks from the first day of your last period. Because ovulation usually occurs about two weeks after that date, you’ll hear some folks refer to pregnancy from conception. Most pregnancies last 38-40 weeks. Things such as irregular periods and not knowing when your last period was (we don’t all track these things, do we?) means we also rely on an ultrasound to date your pregnancy. 

I don’t know how far along I am. Can I get an abortion?

That’s ok. Not everyone tracks their periods or possible dates of conception. That’s why we also use an ultrasound to determine how advanced your pregnancy is. As long as it's within the 12 weeks allowed by the new NC abortion law, you should be able to get an abortion in North Carolina. If you’re past the 12th week, we’ll help you make arrangements in another state. 

I don’t have regular periods. How do I figure out how far along I am? How will you date my pregnancy if you can’t figure out the last menstrual period?

I don’t have regular periods. How do I figure out how far along I am? How will you date my pregnancy if you can’t figure out the last menstrual period?

Do I have to make all three appointments at one time?

No. You’ll make your first appointment for counseling and consent. While at our health center, we’ll schedule your appointment for the abortion. You only need three appointments if you choose a medication abortion. An abortion procedure conducted in our health center doesn’t require a third appointment. If you select a medication abortion, we’ll work with you to schedule your third appointment for follow-up while you’re with us at your second or abortion appointment. 

Do I have to go to the same clinic for all my appointments?

No. We will work with you to schedule the appointment most convenient for you. In many cases, that will be the same health center. In other situations, you may go to one health center for your counseling appointment and a different one for your abortion procedure because of scheduling. You may need an earlier appointment than is available at the closest health center or you may need a different appointment because of work or family obligations. We want you to get the care you need at any location of your choice.

If I live out-of-state, do I have to travel to NC for my first appointment, wait three days and travel back for my abortion?

It depends. North Carolina law now requires that the first visit be in-person, and only certain types of health care providers can complete the required paperwork; sometimes, there are providers in other states who meet the requirements and can assist you with the first appointment closer to home, before you travel to North Carolina for your abortion. While politicians created this mess, we will help you in every way we can. Our patient navigators can help you figure out what your options are, and can help with all arrangements. When you make your appointment, ask what help may be available to you or email [email protected].

Is there an affordable place I can stay during those three days I have to wait for my appointment?

We have discounted rates at numerous hotels near our health centers which provide abortion. Abortion funds also help patients who have traveled great distances for care to obtain affordable overnight accommodations. When you make your first appointment, ask us about what help and financial assistance may be available for you. While we can’t change the law requiring this unnecessary waiting period, we will do everything we can to make it comfortable and affordable for you.


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