36-2153. Informed consent; requirements; information; website; signs; violation; civil relief; statute of limitations

A. An abortion shall not be performed or induced without the voluntary and informed consent of the woman on whom the abortion is to be performed or induced. Except in the case of a medical emergency and in addition to the other requirements of this chapter, consent to an abortion is voluntary and informed only if all of the following are true:

1. At least twenty-four hours before the abortion, the physician who is to perform the abortion or the referring physician has informed the woman, orally and in person, of:

(a) The name of the physician who will perform the abortion.

(b) The nature of the proposed procedure or treatment.

(c) The immediate and long-term medical risks associated with the procedure that a reasonable patient would consider material to the decision of whether or not to undergo the abortion.

(d) Alternatives to the procedure or treatment that a reasonable patient would consider material to the decision of whether or not to undergo the abortion.

(e) The probable gestational age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed.

(f) The probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed.

(g) The medical risks associated with carrying the child to term.

2. At least twenty-four hours before the abortion, the physician who is to perform the abortion, the referring physician or a qualified physician, physician assistant, nurse, psychologist or licensed behavioral health professional to whom the responsibility has been delegated by either physician has informed the woman, orally and in person, that:

(a) Medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care.

(b) The father of the unborn child is liable to assist in the support of the child, even if he has offered to pay for the abortion.  In the case of rape or incest, this information may be omitted.

(c) Public and private agencies and services are available to assist the woman during her pregnancy and after the birth of her child if she chooses not to have an abortion, whether she chooses to keep the child or place the child for adoption.

(d) It is unlawful for any person to coerce a woman to undergo an abortion.

(e) The woman is free to withhold or withdraw her consent to the abortion at any time without affecting her right to future care or treatment and without the loss of any state or federally funded benefits to which she might otherwise be entitled.

(f) The department of health services maintains a website that describes the unborn child and lists the agencies that offer alternatives to abortion.

(g) The woman has a right to review the website and that a printed copy of the materials on the website will be provided to her free of charge if she chooses to review these materials.

3. The information in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this subsection is provided to the woman individually and in a private room to protect her privacy and to ensure that the information focuses on her individual circumstances and that she has adequate opportunity to ask questions.

4. The woman certifies in writing before the abortion that the information required to be provided pursuant to paragraphs 1 and 2 of this subsection has been provided.

B. If a woman has taken mifepristone as part of a two-drug regimen to terminate her pregnancy, has not yet taken the second drug and consults an abortion clinic questioning her decision to terminate her pregnancy or seeking information regarding the health of her fetus or the efficacy of mifepristone alone to terminate a pregnancy, the abortion clinic staff shall inform the woman that the use of mifepristone alone to end a pregnancy is not always effective and that she should immediately consult a physician if she would like more information.

C. If a medical emergency compels the performance of an abortion, the physician shall inform the woman, before the abortion if possible, of the medical indications supporting the physician's judgment that an abortion is necessary to avert the woman's death or to avert substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

D. The department of health services shall establish and shall annually update a website that includes a link to a printable version of all materials listed on the website.  The materials must be written in an easily understood manner and printed in a typeface that is large enough to be clearly legible. The website must include all of the following materials:

1. Information that is organized geographically by location and that is designed to inform the woman about public and private agencies and services that are available to assist a woman through pregnancy, at childbirth and while her child is dependent, including adoption agencies.  The materials shall include a comprehensive list of the agencies, a description of the services they offer and the manner in which these agencies may be contacted, including the agencies' telephone numbers and website addresses.

2. Information on the availability of medical assistance benefits for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care.

3. A statement that it is unlawful for any person to coerce a woman to undergo an abortion.

4. A statement that any physician who performs an abortion on a woman without obtaining the woman's voluntary and informed consent or without affording her a private medical consultation may be liable to the woman for damages in a civil action.

5. A statement that the father of a child is liable to assist in the support of that child, even if the father has offered to pay for an abortion, and that the law allows adoptive parents to pay costs of prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care.

6. Information that is designed to inform the woman of the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments from fertilization to full term, including pictures or drawings representing the development of unborn children at two-week gestational increments and any relevant information on the possibility of the unborn child's survival. The pictures or drawings must contain the dimensions of the unborn child and must be realistic and appropriate for each stage of pregnancy. The information provided pursuant to this paragraph must be objective, nonjudgmental and designed to convey only accurate scientific information about the unborn child at the various gestational ages.

7. Objective information that describes the methods of abortion procedures commonly employed, the medical risks commonly associated with each procedure, the possible detrimental psychological effects of abortion and the medical risks commonly associated with carrying a child to term.

8. Information explaining the efficacy of mifepristone taken alone, without a follow-up drug as part of a two-drug regimen, to terminate a pregnancy and advising a woman to immediately contact a physician if the woman has taken only mifepristone and questions her decision to terminate her pregnancy or seeks information regarding the health of her fetus.

E. An individual who is not a physician shall not perform a surgical abortion.

F. A person shall not write or communicate a prescription for a drug or drugs to induce an abortion or require or obtain payment for a service provided to a patient who has inquired about an abortion or scheduled an abortion until the expiration of the twenty-four-hour reflection period required by subsection A of this section.

G. A person shall not intimidate or coerce in any way any person to obtain an abortion.  A parent, a guardian or any other person shall not coerce a minor to obtain an abortion. If a minor is denied financial support by the minor's parents, guardians or custodian due to the minor's refusal to have an abortion performed, the minor is deemed emancipated for the purposes of eligibility for public assistance benefits, except that the emancipated minor may not use these benefits to obtain an abortion.

H. An abortion clinic as defined in section 36-449.01 shall conspicuously post signs that are visible to all who enter the abortion clinic, that are clearly readable and that state it is unlawful for any person to force a woman to have an abortion and a woman who is being forced to have an abortion has the right to contact any local or state law enforcement or social service agency to receive protection from any actual or threatened physical, emotional or psychological abuse. The signs shall be posted in the waiting room, consultation rooms and procedure rooms.

I. A person shall not require a woman to obtain an abortion as a provision in a contract or as a condition of employment.

J. A physician who knowingly violates this section commits an act of unprofessional conduct and is subject to license suspension or revocation pursuant to title 32, chapter 13 or 17.

K. In addition to other remedies available under the common or statutory law of this state, any of the following may file a civil action to obtain appropriate relief for a violation of this section:

1. A woman on whom an abortion has been performed without her informed consent as required by this section.

2. The father of the unborn child if the father was married to the mother at the time she received the abortion, unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff's criminal conduct.

3. The maternal grandparents of the unborn child if the mother was not at least eighteen years of age at the time of the abortion, unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff's criminal conduct.

L. A civil action filed pursuant to subsection K of this section shall be brought in the superior court in the county in which the woman on whom the abortion was performed resides and may be based on a claim that failure to obtain informed consent was a result of simple negligence, gross negligence, wantonness, wilfulness, intention or any other legal standard of care. Relief pursuant to subsection K of this section includes the following:

1. Money damages for all psychological, emotional and physical injuries resulting from the violation of this section.

2. Statutory damages in an amount equal to five thousand dollars or three times the cost of the abortion, whichever is greater.

3. Reasonable attorney fees and costs.

M. A civil action brought pursuant to this section must be initiated within six years after the violation occurred.