In a court motion filed Oct. 17, Planned Parenthood is asking a state court to block a law that prevents nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician assistants from administering the abortion pill in North Carolina.
The move is in line with abortion supporters efforts this year to make the Tar Heel State a “haven” for abortion in the Southeast, after most neighboring states have enacted abortion restrictions in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer.
Under current state law, only a licensed physician may administer drugs for an abortion, a two-pill process during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
That law is one of five that Planned Parenthood South Atlantic is challenging in an on-going legal case scheduled to be litigated in September of 2023. The other four laws being challenged are a prohibition on telemedicine abortions, a 72-hour informed-consent period prior to an abortion, a requirement that women receive informed-consent information prior to an abortion, and safety codes for abortion facilities.
In the motion, Planned Parenthood said the eased restrictions are needed due to “a continuing influx of out-of-state patients who are unable to access abortion in their home states.”
“Permitting [Advanced Practice Clinicians] to provide these medications for abortion — which they already do for their patients in other contexts and which is within their scope of practice — would immediately increase access to abortion for North Carolinians and help alleviate the exacerbated post-Dobbs burdens on their access to reproductive health care,” the motion claims.
According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, 29 states mandate that only certified physicians may administer chemical abortions.
“This goes to show that abortion isn’t about doing what’s right for women. It’s about money,” said Laura Macklem, press and political director with the N.C. Values Coalition, a pro-life advocacy group, told CJ. “To downgrade medical standards for a procedure which leaves one in five women with complications shows they are desperate to make abortion the only choice. It’s disgraceful to treat the killing of innocent children like a business transaction, finding alternative ways to market death.”
A new nationwide survey of 14,000 women from Support After Abortion focused exclusively on women who had medication abortions. It found that 34% of women who had medication abortions said their outlook on themselves and their decision changed negatively since their abortion. “While some women expressed relief, many were traumatized by medication abortion, an experience they said was far more painful, physically and emotionally, than they had imagined,” the report concluded.
On its website, Planned Parenthood says, “Serious, long-term emotional problems after an abortion are rare, and about as uncommon as they are after giving birth.”
On the election front, Planned Parenthood’s political arms announced earlier in October plans to invest $5 million across 14 legislative swing districts to support pro-choice candidates.