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North Carolina abortion regulations take effect

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More than two years after pro-choice activists protested loudly against updated health regulations on North Carolina abortion facilities, the new regulations are being implemented.

The legislation requires that abortion facilities be held more accountable to health standards. Each facility is required to maintain a more structured nursing staff and a quality assurance program. They must provide a 24-hour phone number for patients in case complications arise, and have a plan in place to transfer patients to a local hospital. Several regulations had not been updated since the 1990’s.

In 2013, North Carolina Republicans attempted to pass legislation that would have mandated abortion facility regulations to meet the same standards as those of ambulatory surgery centers – however, the legislation signed into effect only states that this is optional.

Tami Fitzgerald of the North Carolina Values Coalition said the rules should be tougher, but they are at least putting more scrutiny on local abortion facilities, and the regulations will be a step forward in better protecting the health and safety of women.

“I think the rules made a good start,” Fitzgerald said.

Last year, North Carolina passed legislation requiring abortion facilities to be inspected once per year – an increase from the former standard of once every three to five years. Earlier this year, the state instituted a 72-hour waiting period for abortions.

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