Politics & Government
10:12 am
Thu July 11, 2013

UPDATE: House Passes Abortion Bill; A Look At Who Provides Abortions In NC

Protesters gathered outside the legislative building to protest the abortion bill passed by the Senate on July 3.
Credit Jessica Jones

There are a range of facilities in North Carolina where a woman can get an abortion: a stand-alone clinic, a physician’s office, an ambulatory surgical facility, a hospital, and a hospital-affiliated clinic or health center. According to a report released by the Guttmacher Institute in 2011, the most common abortion providers in the state are stand-alone clinics, which are licensed by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

Most clinics that provide abortions also offer a range of other services related to reproductive health.  In addition to clinics, all hospitals and obstetrics/gynecology doctors are legally licensed to perform abortions, although not all do.

How would House Bill 695 affect abortion providers in NC?

On July 3, the North Carolina Senate passed a bill (HB 695) that, if signed into law, would likely shut down all 15 clinics that provide abortions in the state. It would not affect the one abortion-performing ambulatory surgical center in Asheville, nor would it threaten hospitals or hospital-affiliated women’s health centers.

One of the bill’s provisions that endangers abortion clinics is the requirement that clinics meet the standards of ambulatory surgical facilities. This would mandate new building codes that could be met with minor renovations—like the height of sinks on the property—and others that would be difficult to meet unless a new building were constructed –like hallways wide enough for two gurneys to pass by each other. HB 695 also requires clinics to have admitting privileges at hospitals and that a physician be present during the entire abortion procedure.

Governor Pat McCrory said that he would veto the bill unless significant changes are made.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, North Carolina is one of 26 states that have introduced legislation requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.

How will Senate Bill 353 affect abortion providers in North Carolina?

On Wednesday, July 10, the House inserted abortion language into a bill about motorcycle safety (SB 353) and passed it in a Judiciary committee. Thursday afternoon, the House passed the bill 74-41. The language in this bill regarding abortion clinics is less restrictive than HB 695, although more vague.  It gives the NC Department of Health and Human Services permission to write their own regulations for licensing abortion clinics. It also says that a doctor must be present during only the first dose of abortion-inducing drugs rather than all doses.

The bill was introduced to the committee Wednesday without prior notice, prompting State Senator Joe Sam Queen (D-Waynesville) to tweet:

Secretary of State Aldona Wos has told lawmakers that any bill concerning abortion regulations should be thoroughly studied before it is passed.

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Here’s a breakdown of abortion providers in the state and what other services they offer:

Non-Hospital Affiliated Clinics That Provide Abortions

  • There are 15 in the state (there were 16 last week; one in Durham recently had its license suspended). They are located in:
    • Chapel Hill (3)
    • Charlotte (3)
    • Fayetteville (2)
    • Greensboro (2)
    • Jacksonville (1)
    • Raleigh (2)
    • Wilmington (1)
    • Winston Salem (1)
  • Of the 15 clinics, 12 provide additional services unrelated to abortions, including Pap smears, birth control, STD testing, breast exams, vasectomies, and obstetrical services. Only three clinics are limited to abortions and abortion-related services.

Ambulatory Surgical Center

  • There is one ambulatory surgical facility not affiliated with a hospital that specializes in providing abortions. It is in Asheville. It also provides a range of gynecological services, including birth control and annual exams.

Hospitals

  • There are 126 hospitals in the state. It is not known how many perform abortions or how often, although all are licensed to do so.

Hospital-Affiliated Clinics

  • Many hospitals have their own family planning offices and ob/gyn centers, although it is not known how many regularly provide abortions.  All ob/gyn doctors are licensed by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) to provide abortions. There is a list of board-certified ob/gyn doctors in North Carolina on their website.