One day after Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed a controversial bill that will effectively shut down all but one abortion clinic in the state, the state’s Health and Human Services announces the closing of that single clinic-FemCare of Asheville. FemCare is the only abortion provider in Western North Carolina and the only clinic in the entire state that would be in compliance with the new law passed on Monday. There were 23 rule violations cited, according to Drexdal Pratt, director of DHHS’ Division of Health Service Regulation. “We take rule violations very seriously and, when necessary, take firm action to prevent harm to patients and clients in the facilities that we license, regulate and inspect,” said Director Pratt.
Doctor Lorraine Cummings of FemCare released the following statement:
“Since the state’s last site visit in August 2006 there have been no changes in our operating protocols, but increasing regulations require us to make changes,” she said.
“Standards that were acceptable when we were last inspected have changed and, as soon as we were notified of them two weeks ago, we began the process of meeting each one of them.
“We have had no patient infections using our former protocols. We expect to be in compliance soon with the required standards and will return to serving our patients as soon as possible.”
While running for office in 2012, Pat McCrory was asked by reporter Laura Leslie, “If you are elected governor, what further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign?” To which he answered, “None.” When the state senate attached a host of anti-abortion laws to an anti-Sharia law bill entitled the Family, Faith and Freedom Protection Act , the governor said he would veto it, because it limited access. Less than two hours after McCrory threatened a veto, the state house released a new version of the legislation attached to a motorcycle safety bill. One day later, it was passed. After its passage and approval through the senate as SB 353, McCrory signed this virtually identical bill without reservation. He refused to speak with detractors of the bill, but during a rally outside the Governor’s mansion the day after he signed it, he brought cookies out to the protesters. They promptly placed the cookies at the gate to the mansion with a note that said “Will take women’s health over cookies!”
In addition to new restrictions on clinics, the bill requires a doctor to be present for a medical abortion (taking a pill to end a pregnancy), outlaws abortion coverage for city and county employees, and bars abortion coverage for residents who participate in the state healthcare exchange. The law also allows medical professionals to refuse any treatment or participate in any process that might eventually lead to an abortion, based on their moral, ethical, or religious feelings. While requiring doctors in clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, the law also allows hospitals to refuse said privileges to properly credentialed physicians based on moral grounds. Tacked on the end of the bill are a few sentences about motorcycle safety. Says Pat McCrory:
“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.”
Really, Governor? The model legislation for SB 353 was drafted by Americans United For Life, an association of pro-life law students dedicated to overturning Roe Vs. Wade and restricting access to abortion across the country. AUL is balancing the fight to overturn Roe Vs. Wade with a targeted approach focused on passing state-level legislation to restrict abortion:
In 1992 the Supreme Court clearly opened the door for states to put legal limits on abortion in the decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Since that time, AUL has focused on helping state legislators to pass the best pro-life laws they can, and then helping the state Attorney General to defend those laws in court against lawsuits by Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and Center for Reproductive Rights.
We are continually working to help legislators enact new pro-life laws that will go into effect and not be unnecessarily tied up in court so they can save lives today while continuing to roll back Roe v. Wade in the courts. To do that, we educate legislators on the issues and provide them with model legislation and legal advice on legislative language. We work hand-in-hand with legislators to minimize avoidable problems so activist judges can’t easily tie a good law up for years in court or strike it down completely.
A network of state directors act as the face of AUL to state legislators on a daily basis. States that currently have AUL state directors are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah.
This approach has been labeled Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers: TRAP laws, by reproductive justice advocates. These laws place expensive and difficult burdens on clinics, which in most cases lead to their closure. It costs an estimated $1 million more to convert abortion clinics to outpatient surgical centers,. Other aspects of the new NC law don’t seem to have much to do with patient safety, such as how wide the hallways should be, and whether or not there are enough bathrooms and water fountains according to the bill’s arbitrary standards.
TRAP laws have been passed in at least 27 other states, with devastatingly effective results. Mississippi’s lone clinic, which must fly doctors in from out of state because local doctors are too afraid to work there, now faces closure after a similar law was passed in the state. Hospitals refuse to grant the visiting physicians admitting privileges, which left the clinic out of compliance with the TRAP law. Only a court injunction is keeping the clinic open as the new law is reviewed. Other surgical centers, such as those that provide plastic surgery and other treatments, are not burdened by similar regulations.
As the new NC law SB 353 goes into effect, FemCare of Asheville faces an uncertain future, as do all the clinics in the state. Governor McCrory claims to only have the health and safety of women in mind. If that is the case, I put forward the charge that he is an incompetent governor who neither reads the legislation that he signs, nor realizes the implications of their enactment made evident in other states. The constitutional rights of women are under assault in North Carolina and across the United States, “land of the free.”
TRAP Laws Gain Political Traction While Abortion Clinics—And the Women They Serve—Pay the Price