In the post-Roe legal environment, North Carolina will still allow abortion up to viability with exceptions for life and “serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including any psychological or emotional conditions.” The state has enacted many pro-life safeguards, including informed consent with a reflection period, a requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital in case of emergency, and parental consent for minors seeking abortion. North Carolina enacted a law limiting abortions to the first 20 weeks’ gestation based on the child’s ability to feel pain, but that law was enjoined. Lawmakers have now called upon the North Carolina attorney general, who is pro-abortion, to allow the law to go into effect. North Carolina has around fifteen abortion clinics, clustered near the colleges and universities. Fortunately, North Carolina has nearly one hundred pregnancy centers serving women and families in every part of the state.
The North Carolina Assembly has pro-life Republican majorities in both chambers.
However, Governor Roy Cooper is a pro-choice Democrat who has vetoed multiple pro-life bills. He was recently quoted, saying: “We know Democrat governors are the strongest and last line of defense to protect abortion rights.” Interestingly, North Carolina’s gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates run separately, and current Lieutenant Governor, Mark Robinson, is a pro-life Republican.
North Carolina inspects abortion clinics and makes reports available to the public. AUL’s Unsafe project received dozens of reports over a ten-year period which identified serious violations including failure to obtain informed consent and failure to properly handle medications.
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North Carolina Abortion Quick Facts
- Abortion is legal in North Carolina.
- North Carolina limits abortions after 20 weeks gestational age except in cases of life endangerment, severely compromised physical health, rape or incest.
- Chemical abortion pills could be more tightly regulated in North Carolina but cannot be prescribed via telemedicine.
North Carolina’s Pro-Life Laws Across the Spectrum
Americans United for Life advances the human right to life across the spectrum of issues confronting the dignity of the human person. AUL’s comprehensive analysis of North Carolina’s state laws on human life span the full spectrum of life issues from abortion, to health and safety protections, to patient informed consent, to conscience rights and bioethics.
North Carolina’s Pro-Life Laws Key
- Yes, North Carolina has this law and it is enforceable
- North Carolina has this law in place, but it is currently not in effect due to litigation
- No, North Carolina has no such law in place
- Not Applicable
- To Be Determined
State Constitutional Amendments and Statutes
Americans United for Life covers broad pro-life laws in this section. This includes both state constitutional amendments and state statutes designed to protect preborn human life. FOCA/RHA (or Freedom of Choice Acts/Reproductive Health Acts) are laws designed to enshrine and expand abortion and abortion businesses.
- Constitutional amendment stating no right to abortion
- Constitutional amendment preventing state funding of abortion
- Conditional law prohibiting abortion when Roe is overturned
- Pre-Roe abortion ban that will take effect when Roe is overturned
- FOCA/RHA, codifying an abortion right in state law
Mother-Child Gestational and Procedural Protections
States can protect both mother and child by limiting abortion by gestational age or prohibiting gruesome abortion methods. This category also includes life-saving care requirements for a child born-alive after an abortion, and health and safety requirements for a woman undergoing a chemical abortion.
- Gestational protections by age/week for preborn children
- Basic medical care for infant children born alive during attempted abortions
- Partial-birth (D&X) abortion ban
- Dismemberment (D&E) abortion ban
- Telemedicine abortion ban
- Follow up scheduled with patient for abortion pills complications
Prenatal Non-Discrimination (PRENDA) Protections
Increasingly states are enacting laws to protect unborn babies from eugenic abortions based on gender, disability, or race. Some states provide life-affirming resources for families who receive a diagnosis of a possible genetic anomaly like Down syndrome so they know that they’ll be supported.
- Protection against discrimination based on gender
- Protection against discrimination due to prenatal diagnosis
- Protection against discrimination based on race
- State-provided life-affirming resources for parents and families
Informed Consent Laws
Many states require a woman to give informed consent to an abortion, which holds abortion to a similar standard as other medical procedures. These protections include the disclosure of an abortion procedure’s nature and risks, the performance of an ultrasound to date the pregnancy and allow a woman to meet her unborn child if she chooses, and the time for a woman to reflect on this grave decision.
- Basic informed consent for mothers concerning abortion
- Patient signature or written confirmation of informed consent from provider
- Patient is provided state-sponsored informed consent website/information
- Reflection period (48 hours) protecting a mother’s discernment and choice
- An ultrasound is required to give a mother the opportunity to meet their child
- Information on risks of abortion procedure
- Information on the possibility of abortion pill reversal care
Abortion Reporting in Public Health Data
Reporting requirements ensure the government and public have a comprehensive view of abortion in the state when making important public policy decisions. This data includes basic information on instances of abortion, the gestational age of the aborted unborn child, demographics, procedure type, and complications.
- Basic reporting on instances of abortion
- Abortion reporting includes gestational age data
- Abortion reporting includes demographic information
- Abortion reporting includes procedure type
- Complication reporting
- Anonymized/aggregate data is made available to the public
- Anonymized/aggregate data is submitted to the CDC
Parental Rights and Protection of Minors
States protect a minor considering abortion by involving her parents in her life-changing decision, but also provide guidelines for judicial bypass to parental involvement when it is necessary. Other laws included in this section are safe haven laws which create a safe pathway to give up an infant and prevent child abandonment, and the dissemination of information on perinatal hospice to parents of unborn children with fetal anomalies.
- Parental consent before a minor obtains an abortion
- Parental notice of a minor obtaining an abortion
- Judicial bypass limits
- Mandatory reporting of suspected abuse
- Safe haven protections (72 hours)
- Perinatal hospice resources
Basic Health and Safety Standards
These laws bring abortion businesses up to the health and safety standards of medical facilities. States may limit both chemical and surgical abortion procedures to physicians, require the physician be licensed by the state, and require emergency transfer agreements or admitting privileges for the physician or the facility to protect a patient if she suffers post-abortion complications.
- Established health and safety standards for abortion businesses
- Basic regulatory inspections for abortion businesses
- Only physicians can perform abortions (all methods)
- Physicians required to be licensed in the state
- Emergency transfer/admitting privilege patient protections
- Physician’s license/credentials are disclosed to patients
Legal Recognition of Human Dignity for Preborn Persons
This section covers the ways states recognize the human dignity of unborn children. States increasingly require dignified disposition of fetal remains, whether from abortion or miscarriage. The law may provide for the issuance of a fetal death or stillbirth certificate. States may also protect the dignity of unborn children by prohibiting fetal experimentation and banning the sale or transfer of human fetal remains.
- Dignified disposition of fetal remains required
- Parents may request dignified disposition
- Human fetal death or stillbirth certificate issued to recognize the life of human persons (20 weeks)
- Sale or transfer of human fetal remains prohibited
- Fetal experimentation banned
Fetal Homicide and Wrongful Death/Life
Fetal homicide laws establish criminal penalties for the death of an unborn child. Wrongful death suits provide a civil cause of action for the death of an unborn child. A prohibition on wrongful life/birth suits affirms that no life is “unwanted.”
- Fetal homicide criminalization
- Fetal homicide law in place from the moment of conception
- Wrongful death suits
- Prohibition on wrongful life/birth suits
Assisted Suicide and Patient Care
These laws protect end-of-life patients from physician-assisted suicide, a practice that exploits vulnerable patients, has little government oversight, and undermines modern medicine. The Life-Sustaining Care Act ensures healthcare professionals may not override a minor patient or her surrogate’s decision to obtain or continue life-sustaining care. States with patient nondiscrimination acts protect patients from age or disability discrimination.
- Assisted suicide prohibition
- Life-sustaining care act
- Patient non-discrimination on the basis of age or disability
Bioethics, Human Cloning, and Embryo Research
As medical technology evolves, states increasingly enact pro-life bioethics policies to reaffirm human dignity and ban cloning. These laws also require ethical medical practices, ban destructive embryo research, and regulate assisted reproductive technology.
- Bans human cloning
- Bans taxpayer funding for human cloning
- Bans destructive embryo research
- Encourages ethical alternatives to embryo research
- Requires informed consent for assisted reproductive technologies
- Regulates egg harvesting
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience
These laws protect the freedom of conscience of healthcare professionals, institutions, and pharmacists against forced participation in assisted suicide and abortion. States also safeguard the conscience rights of healthcare professionals and institutions against unethical medical research.
- Individuals protected against abortion participation
- Public/Private institutions protected against abortion participation
- Pharmacists protected against abortion participation
- Individuals protected against participation in unethical research
- Private/public institutions protected against participation in unethical research
- Individuals protected against participation in assisted suicide
- Private/public institutions protected against participation in assisted suicide
- Pharmacists protected against participation in assisted suicide
North Carolina Pro-Life Legislation Tracker
North Carolina Abortion Inspection Initiative
The North Carolina Department of Health and Humans Services, through the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation, Acute and Home Care Licensure and Certification Section, makes inspection reports by DHSR available online. 49 North Carolina inspection reports reflect several serious violations of health and safety, including one immediate jeopardy situation which resulted in the Baker Clinic being shut down. (It has now opened under another name in Durham.) The report states, “[I]t is the finding of this agency that the facility has neglected to provide the services to assure the health and safety and welfare of the clients. Emergency action is required to protect the clients.” The business owner, Dr. Baker, was interviewed by a local newspaper and said, “This was on me, so my bad. It’s like trying to do your own taxes. This is a lot of stuff.” Other violations include expired medicine and supplies, and failure to properly handle medicine. There are also a host of citations for disregarding patient privacy and care, as well as for failure to ensure the physician preforming the surgical procedure signed and witnessed the voluntary consent form for treatment of patients. In another inspection report, Planned Parenthood’s regional director at its Winston Salem Clinic stated, “I thought we only had to provide PPE [Personal Protective Equipment, i.e., masks] and it’s up to the employee to wear it or not.” “A lot of our docs don’t use masks during procedures. We do not monitor the use of PPE.” The inspections seem to have dropped in scope and consistency since 2017 when a new administration took office.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Humans Services, through the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation, Acute and Home Care Licensure and Certification Section, makes inspection reports by DHSR available online. Reports of Surveys for Abortion Clinics. North Carolina, Division of Health Service Regulation, Acute and Home Care Licensure and Certification Section.
NUMBER OF REPORTS: 62
DATE RANGE: 2012–2019