Bill Summary for S 353 (2013-2014)

Summary date: 

Jul 10 2013

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2013-2014 Session
Senate Bill 353 (Public) Filed Tuesday, March 19, 2013
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO MODIFY CERTAIN LAWS PERTAINING TO ABORTION, TO LIMIT ABORTION COVERAGE UNDER HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS OFFERED UNDER A HEALTH BENEFIT EXCHANGE OPERATING IN NORTH CAROLINA OR OFFERED BY A COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY, TO PROHIBIT A PERSON FROM PERFORMING OR ATTEMPTING TO PERFORM AN ABORTION WHEN THE SEX OF THE UNBORN CHILD IS A SIGNIFICANT FACTOR IN SEEKING THE ABORTION, TO DIRECT THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES TO AMEND RULES AND CONDUCT A STUDY PERTAINING TO CLINICS CERTIFIED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES TO BE SUITABLE FACILITIES FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF ABORTIONS, TO AMEND THE WOMEN'S RIGHT TO KNOW ACT, AND TO INCREASE PENALTIES FOR UNSAFE MOVEMENTS BY DRIVERS THAT THREATEN THE PROPERTY AND SAFETY OF MOTORCYCLISTS.
Intro. by Harrington.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute to the 2nd edition adds the following provisions.

Amends GS 14-45.1(e) to expand the prohibition against requiring a health care provider who states an objection to abortion on moral, ethical, or religious grounds to participate in medical procedures, which result in an abortion, to also include any other health provider (was, applied to physicians licensed in North Carolina and nurses only). Clarifies that refusal of a physician, nurse, or health care provider is not a basis for damages or for any disciplinary or other recriminatory action against a physician, nurse, or health care provider. Provides that for the purposes of this section, health care provider has the same meaning as defined under GS 90-410(1). Amends GS 14-45.1(f) to clarify that nothing in this section is to require a health care institution, hospital, or other health care provider to perform an abortion or to provide abortion services (was, a hospital or a health care institution). Makes this section effective 30 days after it becomes law.

Enacts new GS 58-51-63, citing authority granted to the states under 42 USC § 18023(a), to prohibit a qualified health plan offered through an Exchange created under Subchapter III of Chapter 157 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code and operating within this state from including coverage for abortion services. Makes an exception for abortions performed when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest or the mother's life is endangered.

Amends 153A-92(d) to prohibit a county from providing abortion coverage greater than that provided by the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees under Article 3B of GS Chapter 135. Amends GS 160A-162(b) to implement the same prohibition with regards to the provision of health insurance by a city council to city employees. Applies to insurance contracts or policies issued, renewed, or amended on or after October 1, 2013.

Enacts new Article 1K, Certain Abortions Prohibited, in GS Chapter 90, effective October 1, 2013, and applying to violations occurring on or after that date. Provides that, notwithstanding GS 14-45.1, no person will perform or attempt to perform an abortion on a woman in North Carolina with knowledge, or an objective reason to know, that a significant factor in seeking the abortion is related to the sex of the unborn child. Establishes that this section will not be construed as creating an affirmative duty for a physician to inquire if the sex of the unborn child is a significant factor in seeking the abortion.

Provides for civil remedies for violations. Makes any person who violates the provisions of this Article liable for damages, including punitive damages under GS Chapter 1D and provides that the violator may be enjoined from future acts.

Allows a claim for damages against any person who has violated a provision of this Article to be sought by (1) the woman upon whom an abortion was performed or attempted, (2) the spouse or guardian of the woman upon whom an abortion was performed or attempted, or (3) a parent of a woman upon whom an abortion was performed or attempted if the woman was a minor at the time of the abortion or the attempted abortion.

Allows a claim for injunctive relief to be sought by (1) the woman upon whom an abortion was performed or attempted in violation of this Article; (2) any person who is the spouse, guardian, or current or former licensed health care provider of the woman upon whom an abortion has been performed or attempted in violation of this Article; or (3) a parent of the woman upon whom the abortion was performed or attempted if the woman was a minor at the time of the abortion or the attempt. Provides for civil contempt and fines for the violation of an injunction. Provides that each performance or attempted performance of an abortion in violation of an injunction is a separate violation and that the fines are cumulative. Prohibits assessing a fine against the woman upon whom the abortion was performed or attempted. Directs that the clear proceeds of any civil penalty assessed under this section are to be remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund in accordance with GS 115C-457.2.

Requires the court to rule whether the anonymity of any woman upon whom an abortion has been performed or attempted must be preserved from public disclosure if the woman does not give her consent to the disclosure. Upon determining that the woman's anonymity should be preserved, requires the court to issue orders to the parties, witnesses, and counsel and to direct the sealing of the record and exclusion of individuals from courtrooms or hearing rooms to the extent necessary to safeguard the woman's identity from public disclosure. Requires such orders to be accompanied by specific written findings explaining (1) why the anonymity of the woman should be preserved from public disclosure; (2) why the order is essential to that end; (3) how the order is narrowly tailored to serve that interest; and (4) why no reasonable, less restrictive alternative exists. Prohibits construing this section to be used to conceal the identity of the plaintiff or of witnesses from the defendant.

Makes a conforming change to the definition for attempt to perform an abortion provided in GS 90-21.81(2). Effective October 1, 2013.

GS 90-21.82 provides that a woman must provide voluntary and informed consent to receive an abortion. Amends this section to specify the following information that a physician or qualified professional must provide orally (by telephone or in person) to the woman at least 24 hours before an abortion is performed, except in the case of a medical emergency: (1) the name of the doctor who will perform the abortion to ensure the safety of the procedure and prompt medical attention to any complications that may arise; (2) the doctor performing the abortion will be physically present during the performance of the entire abortion procedure; and (3) the doctor prescribing, dispensing or otherwise providing any drug or chemical for the purpose of inducing an abortion will be physically present in the room with the patient when the first drug or chemical is administered to the patient.

Amends GS 90-21.83 to direct the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) make a list of resources available on the state web site that a woman may contact for assistance upon receiving information from the physician performing an ultrasound that her unborn child may have a disability or serious abnormality. Directs DHHS to provide the information in a manner as prescribed by subsection (b) of this section.

Directs DHHS to amend its rules for clinics certified by DHHS to be suitable facilities for performing abortions under GS 14-45.1. Allows DHHS to apply any requirement for the licensure of ambulatory surgical centers to the standards that apply to clinics certified as suitable facilities for performing abortions. Specifies issues that must be addressed by the rules. Directs DHHS to report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services on its progress in amending the rules no later than January 1, 2014. Requires the DHHS, Division of Health Service Regulations, to study what resources are needed to adequately enforce regulations for clinics certified as suitable for performing abortions. Requires a report by April 1, 2014, to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services and the Fiscal Research Division. This section becomes effective October 1, 2013.

Adds a severability clause. Makes conforming changes. Amends the act's short and long titles.

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