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Pro-abortion leaders are taking a newly conciliatory tone with the state of North Carolina after the Department of Health and Human Services sought their guidance in revising a proposal for stricter safety regulations on abortion facilities in the state.  Meanwhile, pro-life activists are crying foul, accusing the state of effectively giving abortionists self-regulatory power by allowing them to help shape the new guidelines.

The state’s original proposal would have allowed surprise inspections at all abortion facilities and required such facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as other outpatient surgical care facilities.  The revised proposal, formulated with input from abortionists throughout the state, allows only annual inspections and inspections performed in response to complaints or allegations of wrongdoing.  Additionally, the revised proposal allows abortion facilities to operate in violation of the rules, so long as the owners can document that they are actively attempting to bring themselves into compliance.

Alison Kiser, senior director of communications at Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, told the Asheville Citizen-Times she was thrilled with the state’s decision to welcome her organization to the drafting table. “Our position as a trusted community provider and as a women's healthcare expert was valued and listened to,” Kiser said.

But Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, slammed the abortionist-endorsed revisions. She told the Citizen-Times they contain “glaring omissions that greatly impact the health and safety of women.”

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“The real question here is why shouldn't abortion clinics give the same standard of care that women receive at any other outpatient surgical facility in the state?” said Fitzgerald. “Why did DHHS feel it necessary to have the state's largest abortion providers at the table, after their clinics have been found guilty of violating existing rules?”

Some pro-life activists took their objections a step further.  “There is no suitable facility for taking the lives of prenatal children,” said Meredith Hunt, who prays weekly in front of Asheville’s former FemCare abortion facility, which has been purchased by Planned Parenthood and is undergoing renovations to meet the proposed state standards. “As much as the new regulations seem to be trying to make abortion safe for the women, it doesn't make it safe for the baby.”

While pro-life advocates worry that the revised regulations don’t go far enough, a representative with NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina told the Citizen-Times she thinks even the weaker restrictions might prove too costly for some independent clinics.  “Those are the ones that are going to be hardest hit by the rules,” said executive director Suzanne Buckley.  The DHHS estimates that each abortion facility will have to spend an average of $7,500 the first year and $5,800 each of the following two years in order to stay in business.

A public hearing will be held December 19 to discuss the proposed changes.  Public comment is being accepted through January 30.