NC abortion debate looms as public weighs in

By Stephanie Carson
Public News Service-NC

CHAPEL HILL — The future of reproductive health in North Carolina is in the hands of the general public.

This month, the North Carolina Department of Health (DHHS) and Human Services proposed new regulations for abortion clinics and now the public has an opportunity to comment.

Larryography | FeaturePics.com Some in North Carolina are concerned that the public comment period on new DHHS rules for clinics that perform abortions will fuel the longtime debate on the topic.

Larryography | FeaturePics.com
Some in North Carolina are concerned that the public comment period on new DHHS rules for clinics that perform abortions will fuel the longtime debate on the topic.

If 10 or more people object to the rules, the General Assembly will have to make the final determination.

The rules, if approved, would go into effect on April 1, 2015. The DHHS is accepting public comment between now and Jan. 30.  There is a public hearing scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Dec. 19 in room 104 of the Brown Building, 801 Biggs Drive, Raleigh. Public comment also will be accepted via email at DHSR.RulesCoordinator@dhhs.nc.gov.

Dr. David Grimes, a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina, fears a possible abortion debate at the state level could be counterproductive to women’s health.

“We need to hope that this does not become a political football now in the General Assembly, where politicians with no medical background try to tinker with the very fine product that’s been developed,” he stresses.

Grimes says the rules proposed by DHHS are reasonable guidelines to ensure that women who want to terminate a pregnancy can do so as safely as possible.

The rules require more post-operative care, a 24-hour number to call if complications arise and a defibrillator on-site in case of cardiac arrest.

The state was required to draft new rules by a bill signed into law last year.

As a result, several clinics that had provided abortion services closed, saying they were unable to meet the new law’s requirement that abortion clinics meet some of the same standards as outpatient surgery centers.

Grimes says the current policy is prompting some women to make tough decisions.

“It’s getting more and more difficult, and it’s important to know that if women don’t have access to safe, legal abortion, they’ll do what they did before Roe v. Wade,” he points out. “They’ll do dangerous self-abortion attempts, or resort to the back alley.”

Supporters of the changes say they were necessary for the state to update its 20-year-old regulations regarding abortion.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, News, Religion

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