Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (known as TRAP laws) are part of a coordinated, national effort to limit reproductive freedom and chip away at access to reproductive health care by any and all means necessary.
What is a TRAP law? TRAP laws single out facilities that provide abortion care and impose on them medically unnecessary, politically motivated regulations that don’t apply to other health care centers. TRAP laws are designed to force women’s health care centers to close and make abortion care more difficult and expensive to obtain.
What do TRAP laws look like? There are three main types of TRAP laws:
- Licensing laws that require women’s health centers, but no other comparable facilities or offices, to obtain and maintain a license and to adhere to other types of regulations regarding physical building requirements, staffing and procedures.
- Laws that require women’s health centers to act as Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs). ASCs are “mini-hospitals” where medical professional perform a wide range of out-patient surgeries. Obtaining an ASC license can require physical reconstruction of facilities and other changes that may be too expensive for many providers.
- Laws that require doctors providing abortion care to obtain special agreements with hospitals, often in the form of admitting privileges or transfer agreements. These are essentially business agreements between hospital and doctors that are not medically necessary but can often be very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) opposes admitting privileges and transfer agreements and instead recommends providers establish a plan to ensure prompt emergency services if a complication occurs and a mechanism for transferring patients who require emergency treatment.
Wait. Does North Carolina already have TRAP laws? Yes! Women’s health centers in North Carolina are already subject to dozens of regulations that do not apply to other healthcare providers. For example, elevators in clinics must be large enough to accommodate a stretcher, hallways must be 60 inches wide, and all doors must be at least 3 feet wide.
What is SB 353? SB 353 is legislation that was passed by extremists in the NC General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. McCrory in July 2013. The law creates sweeping and egregious restrictions on access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare.
Is SB 353 a TRAP law? Yes. The most dangerous aspect of the law is the fact that it gives The Department of Health and Human Services (officials appointed by the Governor) the power to make new regulations for women’s health centers. If anti-choice politicians get their way, instead of increasing health and safety, these restrictions will likely make safe and legal abortion care more difficult to obtain for women and families.
What can I do about it? You can spread the word about the impact these bad regulations will have on women’s health. Make sure your friends and neighbors know the facts:
- Women’s health care centers are gateways to well-woman care. Women’s health centers offer a wide range of essential women’s health services, including cancer screenings, annual check-ups for reproductive health, and pap smears. First-trimester abortion care is only a small portion of the reproductive health care offered at women’s health care centers, but TRAP regulations impact their ability to provide care to all patients–thousands of NC women–not just those seeking abortion care.
- Women’s health centers in North Carolina are highly regulated by state and federal safety regulations. Women’s health centers are already subject to numerous TRAP regulations. Additionally, they follow the same regulations as other physicians’ offices and facilities providing services like dentistry, oral surgery, and colonoscopies.
- Abortion is incredibly safe. Abortion is one of the safest and most common medical procedures in the United State. The most respected doctors in our state and in the nation believe that there is no need for further regulation of women’s health centers.
 For more information on types of TRAP laws, visit the Center for Reproductive Rights on-line at http://reproductiverights.org/en/project/targeted-regulation-of-abortion-providers-trap.