The North Carolina Senate passed a bill Wednesday with new restrictions and regulations for abortion clinics. Republicans behind the bill say those are necessary steps for women's safety. WFAE's Michael Tomsic looked into that claim.
The new rules would impose standards on abortion clinics that are on par with ambulatory surgery centers.
Senate Republican leaders say that would protect women from clinics that aren't safe or clean. Dr. David Grimes doesn't buy it.
"You have to identify that there's a problem before you come up with a legislative solution; we have no problem here," Dr. Grimes said. He's the former chief of the abortion surveillance branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That branch is in charge of monitoring legal abortions performed in the United States.
"Abortion in North Carolina has been safely practiced for many, many decades now, so it's ironic that we're suddenly seeing all this legislative interest in the issue," he said.
On the Senate floor, some Republicans mentioned an abortion clinic in Charlotte that had its license suspended as evidence there's a problem. That clinic administered some medicine orally instead of as an injection. The state Department of Health and Human Services later allowed it to reopen after it agreed to quality improvements.
The state health department reports there are 16 licensed abortion clinics in North Carolina. That Charlotte clinic is the only one that has had its license suspended since 2008. (That's as far back as the data DHHS provided went.)
Dr. Grimes said that the Senate's restrictions set an unnecessarily high bar for clinics to get licensed, and that they would not improve patient care.
"For example, requiring a physician to be present when a pill is administered is sheer nonsense," he said. "Why do you have to have a doctor watch a woman swallow a pill?"
The legislation now goes to the House, which is scheduled to meet next week.