In a busy 2013 legislative session, North Carolina enacted a number of protective requirements including a prohibition on sex-selection abortions, regulations of chemical and surgical abortions, and state taxpayer funding of abortion alternatives.
- North Carolina prohibits sex-selection abortions.
- In 2011, North Carolina enacted an informed consent law, which includes a 24-hour reflection period. Under the law, an abortion provider is required to provide, display, and describe ultrasound images to a woman seeking an abortion and offer her the opportunity to hear the fetal heart tones. The law is in litigation.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on an unemancipated minor under the age of 18 without the written consent of one parent or a grandparent with whom the minor has lived for at least six months, unless there is a medical emergency or a minor obtains a court order.
- North Carolina has enacted comprehensive regulations establishing minimum health and safety standards for abortion clinics. Among the areas regulated are clinic administration, staffing, patient medical evaluations, and post-operative care.
- In 2013, the state Department of Health was given discretion to apply ambulatory surgical center standards to abortion facilities. The impact of the new law is undetermined.
- Only physicians licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina may perform abortions. The physician must be present during the performance of the entire (surgical) abortion procedure.
- The state has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions.
- North Carolina follows the federal standard for Medicaid funding for abortions, permitting the use of federal or state matching Medicaid funds for abortions necessary to preserve the life of the woman or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- North Carolina prohibits abortion coverage for public employees except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.
- The state has limited funding for abortion through the health insurance plans offered through the health insurance Exchanges required by the federal healthcare law or offered through local governments.
- In 2012, the state enacted a law defunding abortion providers. A similar 2011 law had been enjoined.
- A physician must be present during the administration of the first drug in an abortion-inducing drug regimen.
- The state has authorized “Choose Life” license plates, the proceeds of which benefit entities providing abortion alternatives. A federal district court has ruled that the plates are unconstitutional because the North Carolina legislature did not offer a pro-abortion version of the plates. The law remains in litigation.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- North Carolina protects unborn victims of violence from conception until birth. “Lily’s Law” provides that the crime of homicide also includes situations where a child is born and dies from injuries received in utereo.
- North Carolina defines a criminal assault on a pregnant woman that results in miscarriage, stillbirth, or “damage to pregnancy” as an enhanced offense for sentencing purposes.
- The state allows for a wrongful death (civil) action when a viable unborn child is killed through a negligent or criminal act.
- North Carolina does not require that infants who survive an abortion be given appropriate medical care.
- North Carolina has a “Baby Moses” law, establishing a safe haven for mothers to legally leave their infants at designated places and ensuring the infants receive appropriate care and protection.
- The state funds drug treatment programs for pregnant women and newborns.
- North Carolina maintains no laws regarding human cloning, destructive embryo research, or assisted reproductive technologies.
- North Carolina requires the state Department of Health and Human Services to make publicly available publications on umbilical cord stem cells and umbilical cord blood banking. The Department also encourages healthcare professionals to provide the publications to their pregnant patients.
End of Life Laws:
- North Carolina’s treatment of assisted suicide is unclear. While the state has statutorily adopted the common law of crimes, it has also abolished the common law crime of suicide. Assisted suicide may still be a common law crime.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
Participation in Abortion:
- An individual healthcare provider who objects on religious, moral, or ethical grounds is not required to participate in abortions.
- A hospital or other healthcare institution is not required to provide abortions.
- The state provides some protection for the civil rights of pharmacists and pharmacies.
- Health insurance plans that provide prescription coverage must also provide coverage for contraception. The provision includes a conscience exemption so narrow that it excludes the ability of most employers and insurers with moral or religious objections from exercising it.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- North Carolina currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of medical research, which violate a provider’s moral pr religious belief.
What Happened in 2013:
- North Carolina enacted an omnibus measure that includes a provision prohibiting sex-selection abortions and giving the state Department of Health discretion to apply ambulatory surgical center standards to abortion facilities.
- The state limited funding for abortion through the health insurance plans offered through the health insurance Exchanges required by the Affordable Care Act or offered through local governments.
- North Carolina enacted legislation requiring a physician to be present during the performance of the entire (surgical) abortion procedure. Physicians administering chemical abortion must be present for the administration of the first drug in an abortion-inducing drug regimen.
- In a busy legislative session, the state also enacted a measure requiring public schools to teach children that there is a link between abortion and pre-term birth. The instruction will be part of a mandated public health curriculum.
- North Carolina appropriated $250,000 to Carolina Pregnancy Fellowship.
- The state enacted “Lily’s Law,” a measure providing that the crime of homicide includes situations where a child is born and dies from injuries received in utereo.
- North Carolina considered legislation that would make assisted suicide unlawful; however, the bill lacked a criminal penalty for violations.
- The state enacted a provision protecting individual healthcare providers who object to participating in abortions. The state also considered legislation offering or expanding protection for healthcare payers, but such legislation would not be enforceable against the so-called “HHS mandate” that requires nearly all health insurance plans to provide full coverage (without co-pay) of all “FDA approved contraceptives.”
Recommendations for North Carolina
Women’s Protectlion Project Priorities:
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Parental Involvement Enhancement Act
- Components of the Child Protection Act related to evidence retention and remedies for third-party interference with parental rights
- Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (for a pre-viable child)
- Born-Alive Infant Protection Act
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
End of Life:
Assisted Suicide Ban Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act