New provisions in a North Carolina abortion law took effect Jan. 1. Those provisions require doctors to submit reports to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) whenever a pregnancy is terminated after 16 weeks.
The Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015 says that doctors performing an abortion after 16 weeks must provide ultrasound images and measurements that verify gestational age to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Women and Children’s Protection Act of 2015, signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory, says that doctors performing an abortion after the 16-week threshold must provide ultrasound images and measurements that verify gestational age to DHHS.
North Carolina bans abortions after 20 weeks, except in the case of a medical emergency. In such cases, the law requires doctors to record and submit reports that determine a medical emergency existed.
Other provisions of the law have already taken effect, including a required 72-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed.
Those in opposition to the law cite privacy concerns, due to the requirements for data collection and transfer. Melissa Reed, director of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic, said the new demands for women’s personal medical information are “completely inappropriate,” according to The News & Observer of Raleigh.
The information in the reports “shall be for statistical purposes only,” according to the law, and will remain confidential under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, commonly known as HIPAA.
Supporters say the reports allow regulators to hold abortion doctors accountable.
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, told Raleigh’s WRAL that she believes some doctors are illegally performing abortions after the state’s 20-week threshold.
“The state is guaranteeing that the abortion industry is abiding by that law, that babies past 20 weeks have the right to live unless there’s a medical emergency,” she said. “Any time a child is murdered past 20 weeks, this law will make sure that the abortion industry is held accountable.”