SENATE, No. 476

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  STEVEN V. OROHO

District 24 (Morris, Sussex and Warren)

Senator  GERALD CARDINALE

District 39 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Doherty and A.R.Bucco

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires physicians to provide patients opportunity to undergo obstetrical ultrasound or sonogram within 48 hours of performing abortion.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning obstetrical ultrasounds and supplementing Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Full Disclosure Ultrasound Act.”

 

     2.    All facilities in which abortion procedures are performed, and all facilities whose practitioners refer patients for abortions, shall have either functional ultrasound or sonogram equipment on site or shall have access to such equipment through other medical facilities.

 

     3.    a.  As part of the informed consent to the abortion procedure, a patient desiring an abortion shall be offered an opportunity to undergo an ultrasound or sonogram and view the ultrasound or sonogram image of the embryo or fetus.

     b.    The ultrasound or sonogram examination shall be performed within 48 hours of a referral by a physician for an abortion, or not less than 48 hours prior to an abortion procedure being performed, whichever is later.

     c.     Any health irregularity disclosed by the ultrasound or sonogram that may endanger the health or safety of the patient, either as a result of the abortion or other health problem that may exist, shall be made known to the patient not less than 24 hours prior to the scheduled abortion procedure.

     d.    The requirements of subsections b. and c. of this section shall not apply if the physician who refers the patient for an abortion or who shall perform the abortion procedure, as applicable, determines that a medical emergency exists with respect to the patient, in which case the physician shall certify the specific medical condition that constitutes the emergency and include such certification in the medical file of the patient.  For purposes of this act, a “medical emergency” is defined as a condition which, in the reasonable medical judgment made by a responsible licensed physician who is knowledgeable about the patient’s medical condition and her treatment options, and by virtue of the physician’s knowledge and experience, establishes that a delay in commencing an abortion procedure would create a serious risk or cause grave and irreversible physical harm entailing substantial impairment of a major bodily function, not including any psychological or emotional condition or function.

 

     4.    The Department of Health and Senior Services shall develop and distribute a form by which physicians who refer patients for abortions or perform abortion procedures must verify within 14 workdays that the patient was offered an opportunity to undergo an ultrasound or sonogram and view the ultrasound or sonogram image prior to the abortion procedure being performed.

 

     5.    A physician who knowingly fails or refuses to offer a patient desiring an abortion an opportunity to undergo an ultrasound or sonogram and view the ultrasound or sonogram image prior to performing the abortion procedure pursuant to section 3 of this act shall be subject to a civil penalty as provided in this section.  The civil penalty prescribed by this section shall be collected and enforced by summary proceedings in the court having jurisdiction pursuant to the provisions of the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

     a.     Upon a finding by a court of competent jurisdiction in this State that a respondent in an action commenced under this act has knowingly violated a provision of this act, the court shall notify the State Board of Medical Examiners, and assess a civil penalty against the respondent in an amount of no less than $10,000, but not to exceed $100,000.

     b.    Upon a second or subsequent offense upon a finding by a court of competent jurisdiction in this State that a respondent in an action commenced under this act has knowingly violated a provision of this act, and has knowingly violated a provision of this act on a prior occasion, the court shall notify the State Board of Medical Examiners, and access a civil penalty against the respondent in an amount of no less than $25,000, but not to exceed $250,000.

     c.     A patient upon whom an abortion procedure has been performed in violation of this act, or the parent or legal guardian of the patient if the patient is an unemancipated minor, may commence a civil action against the physician for any willful violation of this act for actual and punitive damages.

 

     6.    This act shall take effect on the 90th day after enactment, but the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of the act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires a physician to provide a patient with an opportunity to undergo an ultrasound or sonogram and view an ultrasound or sonogram image of the embryo or fetus within 48 hours of a referral for an abortion, or at least 48 hours prior to an abortion procedure being performed, whichever is later.  Any health irregularity that may endanger the health or safety of the patient disclosed by the ultrasound or sonogram must be communicated to the patient at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled abortion procedure.

     If a “medical emergency” exists with respect to the patient, the physician is not required to comply with the ultrasound or sonogram requirements of this bill, but must certify the specific medical condition that exists and include the certification in the patient’s medical file.  A “medical emergency,” as defined by this bill, means a condition which, in the reasonable medical judgment made by a responsible licensed physician who is knowledgeable about the patient’s medical condition and her treatment options, and by virtue of the physician’s knowledge and experience, establishes that a delay in commencing an abortion procedure would create a serious risk or cause grave and irreversible physical harm entailing substantial impairment of a major bodily function, not including any psychological or emotional condition or function.

     Pursuant to the bill, the Department of Health and Senior Services is required to develop and distribute a form for physicians to use to verify in writing, within 14 workdays of the procedure or referral for the procedure, that the patient was offered an opportunity to undergo an ultrasound or sonogram and view the ultrasound or sonogram image prior to the abortion procedure being performed.

     Under the bill, a physician who knowingly fails or refuses to offer a patient desiring an abortion the opportunity undergo an ultrasound or sonogram and view the ultrasound or sonogram image prior to performing the abortion procedure shall be subject to civil penalties.  Upon a finding by a court of competent jurisdiction that a respondent in an action commenced under this bill has knowingly violated a provision thereof, the court shall notify the State Board of Medical Examiners, and assess a civil penalty against the respondent in an amount of no less than $10,000, but not to exceed $100,000.  Upon a second or subsequent offense, the court shall notify the State Board of Medical Examiners, and access a civil penalty against the respondent in an amount of no less than $25,000, but not to exceed $250,000.  A patient who has had an abortion in violation of the provisions of this bill, or a parent or legal guardian of an unemancipated minor who has had an abortion in violation of the provisions of this bill, may commence a civil action against the physician for any willful violation thereof and seek actual and punitive damages.

     This bill takes effect on the 90th day after enactment, but the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services may take anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof in order to implement the provisions of this bill.