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North Carolina ‘Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act’ (SB 547)

This law was last updated on May 3, 2019

This law is Anti–Choice Model Bill


North Carolina


SB 547




Apr 2, 2019


Co-sponsors: 16
Primary Sponsors: 3
Total Sponsors: 19


20-Week Bans, Physicians Reporting Requirements, Reporting Requirements

Full Bill Text

SB 547 would ban abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization unless an abortion is necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the pregnant patient.

The bill includes legislative findings based on junk science that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.

Except in the case of a medical emergency, the bill would prohibit an abortion from being performed or induced, or attempted to be performed or induced, unless a physician has first determined the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus.

If an abortion at 20 weeks or more is necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the pregnant patient, the physician would be required to terminate the pregnancy through or by the method which, provides the best opportunity for the fetus to survive, unless such a manner would pose a more serious health risk to the pregnant patient.

A person who intentionally or recklessly performs or induces or attempts to perform or induce an abortion in violation of this provision would be committing a Class D felony.

The bill provides for civil action against the person who performed or induced the abortion.

Reporting Requirements

A physician who provides abortion services would need to report all of the following:

  • The probable post-fertilization age of the fetus and whether ultrasound was employed in making the determination, and, if a determination of probable post-fertilization age was not made, the basis of the determination that a medical emergency existed;
  • The method of abortion;
  • Whether an intra-fetal injection was used;
  • The age and race of the pregnant patient;
  • The basis of determination that the pregnancy was a serious health risk to the pregnant patient if the post-fertilization age of the “unborn child” was 20 weeks or more; and
  • If an abortion is necessary to prevent a serious health risk, whether the method used was the method that provided the best opportunity for the fetus to survive.

The state health and human services department would be required to publish an annual statistical summary of all the reports for that year.

The department would be authorized to assess a late fee of $1,000 for each 30-day period that a report is overdue.

Litigation Defense Fund

The bill would also establish a special fund known as the “North Carolina Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act Litigation Defense Fund,” for the purpose of providing funds to pay for any costs and expenses incurred by the state in relation to defending this law.

Related Legislation

Companion bill to HB 603.

Based on model legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee.

Similar to North Carolina’s 20-week ban which was enacted in 1973. The law—which was not tied to fetal pain—was blocked on March 25, 2019.

Latest Action

4/2/19 – Introduced.