Proposed abortion rules could close NC clinics

Posted March 15, 2013 3:24 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2013 5:55 p.m. EDT

— A bill filed Wednesday would require doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, a restriction that abortion-rights supporters say could close clinics across North Carolina.

Senate Bill 308 also would require any physician performing an abortion to remain with the patient through the entire procedure and recovery period.

Sponsor Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke, said the goal is patient safety.

"We just to make sure that, if we're having abortion procedures in North Carolina, they're as safe as any other type of surgery. I think it's reasonable," Daniel said.

Melissa Reed, vice president for public policy for Planned Parenthood, said abortions are already very safe.

"It's really not about patient safety. This is strictly politics," Reed said. "It's an attempt to make it impossible for women to access abortion."

Under federal law, states cannot outlaw abortions, but they can make them hard to get.

Two years ago, North Carolina lawmakers approved new restrictions on abortion, requiring women to receive counseling and wait 24 hours before a procedure. Women also now have to have an ultrasound as the physician describes the images.

Gov. Pat McCrory has said he won't support further restrictions on abortion. Daniel said he's not trying to call the governor's bluff.

"We're just bringing some issues to the forefront that the legislature thinks (are) important, and we'll have discussions with the governor about whether he agrees or not at a later date," he said.

If McCrory vetoes an abortion bill, House and Senate Republicans have sufficient numbers to override it.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups plan a rally at the legislature next Wednesday.

Reed notes that, when Mississippi passed a law last year identical to what Daniel has proposed, local hospitals found themselves under political pressure over whether to grant privileges to physicians who perform abortions.

"What happened as a result of that is that no providers were given admitting privileges," she said. "The hospitals, quite frankly, did not want protesters out in front of their hospitals interfering with their practice of medicine.

"At this point, Mississippi is very close to closing its very last abortion clinic."

Daniel said he hadn't thought about any impact on medical clinics when he drafted the bill.

"I guess I don't know exactly how it will affect clinics across the state," he said.