REBECCA MERCIER- Impact of a Women's Right to Know Act on Abortion Providers in North Carolina

Project: Research project


Abortion laws are proliferating throughout the US; they are increasingly focused on clinicians, often directing specific aspects of clinical care.1, 2 Many abortion-specific laws mandate that physicians perform actions that lie outside of standard clinical practice. In complying with these laws, providers may feel that they are required to act against their patients’ interests, violate medical ethics, and potentially harm their patients. These laws have been criticized by several professional organizations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,3 but no studies have assessed how these laws affect the ability of physicians and nurses to provide abortion, or the ethical implications for providers.
In October of 2011 North Carolina passed HB 854, known at the “Women’s Right To Know Act” (WRTK). Similar to laws in 37 other states, WRTK mandates a 24-hour waiting period after informed consent is obtained before an abortion can be performed. Content of the informed consent procedure is partially dictated by the state, and contains ideological statements regarding the potential harms of abortion, as well as pregnancy alternatives. The law also mandates an ultrasound be performed and the physical characteristics of the fetus be described to the woman while it is performed; this portion of the law is temporarily enjoined. There are no allowances for physicians to use discretion in what protocols or procedures are followed in consideration of specific patient circumstances. We propose a study to investigate the impact of the WRTK Act on abortion providers in North Carolina.
Effective start/end date10/1/139/30/14


  • Society of Family Planning (SFP)


Women's Rights
Informed Consent
Patient Harm
Medical Ethics