Feminist - A North Carolina law requiring abortion providers to submit an ultrasound to state officials for every abortion and induced miscarriage performed after the 16th week of pregnancy took effect on January 1. The law, signed by Governor Pat McCrory in June, demands all doctors performing abortions after 16 weeks to send the State Department of Health and Human Services an ultrasound of the fetus proving the measurements used to determine the fetus' "probable gestational age." Louisiana and Oklahoma have similar ultrasound provisions.
Current North Carolina law bans abortion after 20-weeks of pregnancy except in cases of "medical emergencies." As part of the new requirements, doctors performing abortions after 20-weeks must also submit to the state whatever evidence was used to determine that the abortion qualified as a medical emergency. Essentially, the law forces women to share their private medical information with state officials.
"State bureaucrats have no business coming between a woman and her doctor and collecting medical records that should be personal and private," said Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic Executive Director Melissa L. Reed who has called the law "medically unnecessary and purely politically driven." Reed says that, "The true intent of the law is clear-to shame women and intimidate the doctors that care for them."
Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam announced a $9 million program proposal that would make free long-lasting birth control available to women who have little or no health insurance. Funding for the pilot program will be included in Governor Terry McAuliffe's next two-year budget plan.
The proposal would make intrauterine devices and skin implants available to eligible women at no cost through a federal grant. The program budget will also cover patient outreach, clinician training, and a study to assess the program's impact.
In his remarks, Northam, a pediatric neurosurgeon, cited a comparable program in Colorado that led to a 48 percent decrease in the teen birth rate between 2009 and 2013, and saved an estimated $79 million in Medicaid costs from 2010 through 2012. Despite Northam's optimism that the Virginia program could see similar results to Colorado, it is important to note that the privately-funded Colorado initiative was a five-year, $25 million grant. McAuliffe and Northam have yet to announce any further plans past the two-year budget proposal.
The program will now have to be approved by Virginia's Republican-controlled state legislature.