A new law is now holding abortion clinics in North Carolina to higher, more difficult standards, but so far the Triangle has not been negatively affected by it.
The law—Senate Bill 353—states that clinics performing abortions will now be held to similar standards as outpatient surgical centers. It also prevents government insurance plans from paying for the procedure, and prohibits abortions motivated by the sex of the unborn fetus. SB 353 will go into effect October 1.
“The new rules haven’t been written yet so all clinics still abide by the current rules and regulations,” said Kristi Clifford, press assistant at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Five abortion clinics currently operate within the Triangle area, with two in Raleigh and three in Chapel Hill: A Preferred Women’s Health, A Woman’s Choice of Raleigh, Easton OB/GYN, Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina and Women’s Health Alliance Durham.
Femcare, an abortion clinic in Asheville, is the only clinic that currently operates under the same guidelines as an ambulatory surgical center. It was closed starting July 31 after state officials found health code violations, and reopened in late August after inspectors found the operational problems to be fixed.
Clifford noted that clinics are not being investigated thus far, and will continue operating as they have in the past until the law is implemented.
Although one clinic in Durham that performed abortions—the Baker Clinic for Women—surrendered its certification on August 21 after the law was signed, it did not close because of the SB 353.
Clifford said in an email Tuesday that the closing was voluntary, and the clinic had been attempting to fix “deficiencies” that caused it to be suspended on July 5.
Supporters of the law, including Gov. Pat McCrory, emphasized that the intention of the legislation is to promote the safety of women seeking abortions.
“These higher standards will result in safer conditions for North Carolina women,” McCrory said in a press release. “This law does not further limit access and those who contend it does are more interested in politics than the health and safety of our citizens.”
A second law pertaining to abortions—Senate Bill 132—was also signed by McCrory on July 18. It covers the way in which schoolchildren will be educated about abortions. The state-mandated health curriculum for seventh graders now includes a provision requiring teachers to inform students of the risk factors for preterm birth in pregnancies. The stated risks include prior induced abortion, smoking, alcohol consumption and inadequate prenatal care.
This provision also requires the teaching of “reasons, skills and strategies” for abstinence and that a mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship within a marriage is the best way of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases.
Serina Floyd, a former obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Duke Medicine, said that the education guidelines were not completely accurate. She said that many scientific studies do not support the idea that induced abortions cause miscarriages later in life.
“There is a lot of evidence to the contrary,” Floyd said. “That [idea] came from an article… from folks against termination. It is more ammunition to scare women out of getting termination."