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Revisions Strengthen Abortion Clinic Regulations Rewrite

More than two years after the passage of legislation directing the State to update its abortion clinic regulations, the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services has published its long-awaited final draft rules. Ultimately, the delay may have been beneficial, as the revised rules include a number of important measures that mirror directives in House Bill 465, the “Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015,” which passed the N.C. General Assembly in June 2015.

“I’m very encouraged by the revised abortion clinic regulations recently released by DHHS,” said Rep. Jacqueline Shaffer (R-Mecklenburg), a primary sponsor and champion of House Bill 465. “In the spirit of the pro-life legislation we have worked on at the General Assembly in recent years, such as HB 465, these new rules will go far in ensuring the health and safety of women who choose to visit an abortion clinic in this State.”

Most notably, the revised regulations include provisions that:

  • Require annual inspections of abortion clinics. (The original draft regs stated that abortion clinics “shall be subject to” annual inspections but did not require that annual inspections take place. HB 465 requires annual inspections of abortion clinics, and the newly revised regs mirror this requirement.);
  • Allow only a “qualified physician,” who is certified in obstetrics or gynecology or who has significant training in this area, to perform abortions in North Carolina (The original draft regs did not include such a provision, and this new addition is consistent with a similar provision in HB 465.);
  • Prohibit abortion clinics from employing individuals less than 18 years of age. (A provision in the original draft regs would have allowed 16-year-olds to work in an abortion clinic if they did not have “direct responsibility for patient care.” That provision has been removed, and HB 465 directs that “no person who is less than 18 years of age shall be employed at any clinic…where abortions are performed.”)

In addition to the important changes outlined above, House Bill 465 extended the informed consent waiting period for abortion in North Carolina from 24 to 72 hours.

According to DHHS staff, the revised abortion clinic regulations are scheduled to go into effect on October 1, 2015.


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