Budget May Eliminate State Abortion Fund
Special Report - February 3, 2009
Proposed budget cuts submitted to Governor Bev Perdue by agency officials include a complete elimination of the State Abortion Fund. As North Carolina lawmakers face a potential budget shortfall of $2 billion, the Governor directed agencies to find ways to cut seven percent of their budgets. The Division of Social Services proposed nearly $17 million in cuts, including the entire $50,000 State Abortion Fund.
North Carolina’s State Abortion Fund was created in 1978. Through the 1980s and 1990s, various limitations were imposed on who is eligible to receive the funds and the size of the fund. As of 1995, the Fund was cut from $1.2 million down to its current $50,000. Women must be state residents who do not qualify for Medicaid, but do qualify as low income (defined as qualifying for welfare or making less than $14,000 for a two-person household in 2008). Written certification is required from a doctor stating that the abortion is medically necessary because of rape, incest, a deformed fetus, mental retardation of the mother, or serious risk to the mother. Women are not eligible after the child’s 112th day of gestation, and women are only allowed one abortion funded by the State Abortion Fund. In 1994, the State Abortion Fund paid for 4,587 abortions, but the restrictions have reduced the number of state-funded abortions to only one since 1995. Since the restrictions were set in place, the State has continued to allocate $50,000 to the Fund each year. Any unused money from the State Abortion Fund reverts to the General Fund at the end of the fiscal year.
Barbara Holt, executive director of North Carolina Right to Life, notes that while eliminating the State Abortion Fund is a positive step, the state budget continues to fund abortions through the state employee health plan and a children’s health insurance plan.
According to the Raleigh News & Observer, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina plans to fight the proposed elimination of the fund. Executive director, Sean Kosofsky wants the money to remain in the budget, even if it is not used, as a symbol “that this is a state that cares about women’s reproductive health.” He says that eliminating the fund altogether would make NARAL’s ultimate goal of peeling back restrictions on use of the Fund much more difficult.
Matt Lytle, director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council, commented, “Even though this fund has paid for only one abortion since 1995, the fact that it remained in existence meant that the state was appropriating taxpayer dollars every year for abortions, an action that goes against the conviction of many in this state.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.