North Carolina Legislature Proposes TRAP Law Requiring Unnecessary Admitting Privileges

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North Carolina Legislature Proposes TRAP Law Requiring Unnecessary Admitting Privileges

Robin Marty

The governor promised he would not sign any new abortion restrictions. Will he keep his word?

Requiring a doctor who provides abortions to have admitting privileges to a local hospital is in the process of shutting down the only abortion clinic in Mississippi. It’s also one step away from becoming law in North Dakota, where is meant to have the same result on their state’s only provider. Alabama may have more than one clinic, but a similar bill could still close them down all at once if it passes.

Now it’s North Carolina’s turn.

Unlike other states, which have proposed their admitting privileges requirement as a bill of their own, the senators of North Carolina have inserted their TRAP language into their current informed consent legislation. SB 308 amends the bill to require that doctors performing abortions be in the clinic from the moment the abortion begins until the second the patient walks out the door. It also demands that all abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges to a facility within 30 miles of the clinic, a change from current standards that simply say a doctor must make it clear he or she does not have any. Because it would modify an already existing law, there is no language regarding whether these changes would only affect surgical abortion centers, or also medication only providers, a serious hardship for the latter who’s patients have likely returned to their homes and, in the rare occasion that they would need hospital care would not want to travel the distance needed to be admitted by the provider who handed them the pills.

“S.B. 308. subjects health-care providers to different regulations simply because they offer women the full range of reproductive-health-care options.  This bill is discriminatory, and serves only to stigmatize abortion providers and marginalize abortion from the larger picture of women’s health care,” said Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina via statement.”Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States, and excessive regulation of abortion providers is not intended to protect women’s health nor will it have that effect.  The goal and effect of TRAP laws, such as this bill, is simply to reduce an already limited supply of abortion providers by singling them out for medically unnecessary regulation.”

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“This bill is a direct attempt to restrict North Carolina women’s access to reproductive health care services.”

Should the TRAP bill make it to the Republican governor, however, there is no indication that he would sign it into law. Governor Pat McCrory made a public pledge not to place any new restrictions on abortion, so a bill that could close most of the clinics in the state would be a significant violation of that promise. With local media eagerly tracking him to see if he keeps his word on a variety of campaign pledges, McCrory may not be willing to break his word, despite prior support of nearly every anti-choice bill ever conceptualized.

SB 308 is currently waiting to be heard in Senate committee before it would move the the full Senate for a vote.