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@NCCapitol

DHHS chief calls for more study of abortion restrictions

Posted July 9, 2013

— Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos urged lawmakers Tuesday to slow down on a break-neck effort to adopt new restrictions on North Carolina abortion clinics, saying some of the provisions need more study while others need to be clarified.

In an unusual move, the House Health and Human Services Committee held a two-hour public hearing Tuesday on House Bill 695, which was passed last week by the Senate and needs only a concurrence vote by the full House to pass.

House leaders moved the bill back to committee after days of complaints by abortion-rights and good-government advocates, as well as Gov. Pat McCrory, over the Senate's handling of the bill. The Senate used a late-day committee hearing to tack abortion measures onto an unrelated bill without public notice and rushed it through approval in less than 24 hours.

Even with the public hearing, the bill could go before the full House as soon as Wednesday.

Bill sponsors contend that they are trying to improve the safety of abortion clinics statewide by requiring them to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Clinics also would have to have "transfer agreements" with nearby hospitals, which are roughly equivalent to the hospital granting the physicians admitting privileges, and physicians would have to be present with the patient throughout an abortion, whether surgical or drug-induced.

"It is not our goal to shut down every clinic in North Carolina," said Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg. "What we want to do is make them safer."

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"A surgery center should not be allowed to have lower standards just because all their patients are women or because they provide abortions," said Rep. Bert Jones, R-Rockingham. "We’re requiring abortion providers to meet some minimum standards."

McCrory said Monday that he feels some of the provisions go beyond safety and wander into the realm of restricting abortions, which he opposes. Wos echoed that line Tuesday, saying "much uncertainty remains" in the bill's provisions.

"I urge you to follow the governor’s advice and leadership and spend more time studying these issues," she said.

Wos acknowledged that state regulations for abortion clinics need to be updated, saying that they haven't been changed since 1995. But said also noted that DHHS lacks the resources to inspect the clinics more than one every three to five years.

"Some of the most consequential ways we could improve the health and safety of women would really be to dedicate resources to provide more frequent regular inspections and to review our existing regulation," she said.

"We need to ask some serious questions about our regulations. Are the regulations sound? Are the regulations reasonable? And are they being enforced?" she said. "Other parts of the bill are more complex."

Republican lawmakers said they would work with Wos to resolve her concerns by the end of the week.

Reps. Verla Insko, D-Orange, and Beverly Earle, D-Mecklenburg, said lawmakers should provide DHHS with the needed funding to increase inspections of clinics if they truly care about women's health.

"We talk about safety, (but) if we close these facilities, we are talking about sending women back to the back-room type of places that used to exist," Earle said.

Abortion-rights advocates contend that only one abortion clinic in the state currently meets the more stringent requirements called for under the law. State officials said Tuesday that upgrading other clinics would cost $1 million each, in addition to extra operating costs, making it cost-prohibitive for them to remain in operation.

"(The bill) won't decrease the need for abortion care. It will only make it less safe," said Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.

Similar laws in other states have closed down many or nearly all abortion clinics. Many of those laws are being challenged in federal court.

Tami Fitzgerald, president of the North Carolina Values Coalition, noted that state regulators have shut down two abortion clinics in recent weeks for unsafe practices and urged lawmakers to pass the new restrictions.

"Requiring doctors to be present for abortions is not wild-eyed or crazy," Fitzgerald said.

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  • healls Jul 11, 4:22 p.m.

    I do know many conservatives, because I have friends across political lines. It has been my observation that they DO donate to charities and volunteer their time--to those that they believe DESERVE their money and time. However, they do not care whether or not ALL children are housed, fed, and educated after they are born; they prefer to sit in judgement on the sex lives of the children's parents.

    One last question--how many children have YOU adopted?? And don't turn that question on me, because I am not the one who is advocating NO abortions. I put my money where my mouth is"

    mountainlover

    You obviously don't know the conservatives I know, because they are NOT judgmental and help anyone who needs it. Look up my church if you want to see thousands of people here in the Triangle who live to reach out and help the less fortunate. Gethope.net Obviously, not everyone who attends there is conservative, but I would say the majority are.

    I was single mother for many years and did not have

  • healls Jul 11, 4:19 p.m.

    Majored in Biology, work in the field, I'm anti-Abortion and pro-Choice. Did you have any other silly point to fail to make?

    Pagan Patriot

    It's not a "silly point". Anyone who believes that an unborn child is not a living human being is deluding themself. I don't care if you majored in biology or not. If it's not a living human being, how does it have a heartbeat, brainwaves, separate DNA, fully formed organs, the ability to suck its thumb and move about freely in the womb? And that's at about 8-9 weeks gestation. Please explain to me how a clump of cells that aren't a living being can do that. I'd love to hear.

  • healls Jul 11, 4:16 p.m.

    Wrong. Not all ectopic pregnancies are (or have to be) surgically removed. If it's detected early enough, the woman takes Methotrexate to induce a miscarriage. Where does she go to get these pills? A clinic.

    madeuce2010

    She has to get those at an abortion clinic? She couldn't get them at the ER, or her own OBGYN? It seems to me that any physician could administer that drug in the event of an ectopic pregnancy.

  • healls Jul 11, 4:11 p.m.

    ROFL! So tell us...how many millions of people have you helped? You do know that there are MILLIONS of people who need help, right?

    Pagan Patriot

    I've helped thousands. But, as I mentioned in my previous comment, the other pro-life people I know also help others every chance they get. So, if there were millions of people out there like me, and I would say that there are, then there ya go. Private charities do more with less money and red tape to help the poor and marginalized in our society than any bloated gov't entity could ever hope ot.

  • healls Jul 11, 4:09 p.m.

    ROFL! So tell us...how many millions of people have you helped? You do know that there are MILLIONS of people who need help, right? Pagan Patriot

  • madeuce2010 Jul 10, 3:42 p.m.

    "How are people so ignorant??!! Good grief! If you have an ectopic pregnancy, you don't go to an abortion clinic to have it removed, you go to your local HOSPITAL. It's a medical emergency. Does the bill close down hospitals, too? Sigh..." -- healls

    Wrong. Not all ectopic pregnancies are (or have to be) surgically removed. If it's detected early enough, the woman takes Methotrexate to induce a miscarriage. Where does she go to get these pills? A clinic.

  • brassy Jul 10, 11:32 a.m.

    "It is not our goal to shut down every clinic in North Carolina," said Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg.

    That is EXACTLY what their goal is. Agenda #2 is outlaw all forms of birth control.

  • Orthodox Celt Jul 10, 11:00 a.m.

    "Then would you say the killing of an 8 and a half month fetus should be legal?"

    Do you support the murder of children by American forces overseas?

  • Orthodox Celt Jul 10, 10:58 a.m.

    "Exactly how do you know how many people I help and how are you capable of establishing that it's a "vanishingly few"? "

    ROFL! So tell us...how many millions of people have you helped? You do know that there are MILLIONS of people who need help, right?

  • Orthodox Celt Jul 10, 10:56 a.m.

    "Are you freakin' kidding me?"

    Nope

    "Have you ever been pregnant?"

    Wife has.

    "I have. More than once."

    So what?

    "There is no doubt that there is a living human being inside of every pregnant woman"

    It is actually in great doubt and debate.

    "It's not even a question"

    Yes it is.

    "Do some research on fetal development with an open mind and not a crazy agenda to defend abortion on demand at all costs"

    Majored in Biology, work in the field, I'm anti-Abortion and pro-Choice. Did you have any other silly point to fail to make?

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