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Women’s health advocates respond to proposed abortion regs

Reproductive rightsThe North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released proposed abortion provider regulations today and the preliminary take seems to be that the intent of the rules themselves may not be as malicious or destructive as that of the legislation that gave rise to them.

As Alison Kiser of Planned Parenthood told WRAL.com:

“We are pleased that DHHS included a Planned Parenthood provider as part of the regulatory process. As we have been for 40 years, Planned Parenthood affiliates in North Carolina are committed to our patients and meeting the health care needs of the more than 25,000 women, men and young people that come to us every year for high-quality, affordable health care. Ensuring the health and safety of our patients is central to our mission.”

Meanwhile the folks at NARAL Pro-Choice NC issued the following statement:

DHHS Releases Rules for Abortion Clinics in North Carolina
Advocates caution that process must put women’s health before lawmakers’ political agenda

DURHAM, NC—Today the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released a set of rules regulating abortion providers in North Carolina, in accordance with SB 353, which the legislature passed in an extended legislative session this year.

“The Department of Health and Human Services has written a set of regulations with input from experts in the field of reproductive health care. At NARAL Pro-Choice NC, we believe it’s critical that this rule-making process not be politicized by the same political interests and lawmakers that sought to eliminate access to abortion care in the first place,” said Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.

“Make no mistake about it – the law that forced these rules to be written was backed by politicians with a single goal: to prevent women in North Carolina from accessing safe, legal abortion care,” continued Buckley. “We would welcome oversight and regulations that protect patient safety, but there is absolutely no medical basis for the restrictions proposed by the General Assembly. The law had nothing to do with keeping women safe, and everything to do with making it practically impossible for North Carolina women to access abortion care.”

DHHS will hold a 60-day a public comment period and a public hearing on Friday, December 19 before the new rules are approved. Buckley concluded, “During this period of public input, NARAL Pro-Choice NC will do everything possible to amplify the perspectives of women’s health experts, abortion providers, and concerned citizens who believe that women’s health, safety and wellbeing –not a political agenda– should come first in North Carolina. DHHS would be wise to heed that call.”

Regulations such as these – generally known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws – are a commonplace legislative tactic designed to force the closure of facilities where safe, legal abortions are provided by imposing burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements. Currently, 90% of North Carolina counties have no abortion provider, forcing 57% of women to travel great distances, often a full days drive, to access abortion care. “If the final regulations put politics over women’s health, women and families in North Carolina will lose access to a a wide range of essential reproductive health care services from cancer screenings to check-ups to abortion care, with rural and low-income women being hit the hardest,” said Buckley.

Recent polling found that 76 percent of those surveyed – representing all age groups, political affiliations, ethnicities and regions of the state – agree that decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor or health care provider, not a politician. “The fact is, North Carolinians are united in their agreement that politicians should not interfere in these personal decisions,” Buckley said.

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