C. GENERAL LEGAL AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS

Professional licensees in each state are governed by their respective practice acts and other statutes applicable to them, as well as by licensing board rules, orders, policies, advisory opinions, and procedures.9 In addition, generally applicable (mostly procedural) statutes such as state Administrative Procedure acts and Open Meetings laws and Government-in-the-Sunshine laws also affect the ways in which licensees and boards interact.10 As is the case for any other health or medical service a licensed professional might provide, APCs providing abortion and reproductive services must understand and comply with the legal requirements, both substantive and procedural, set forth in multiple intertwined legal standards, acts, and pronouncements.

All health care professionals are legally accountable for actions they take in the course of their practice. This accountability is enforced principally through the legal mechanisms of licensure, state practice acts, and related legislative and regulatory initiatives, all of which explicitly codify the profession’s obligation to act in the best interests of society. Nurse practice acts grant nurses and advanced practice nurses (such as NPs and CNMs) the authority to practice—and also grant regulatory boards the authority to sanction those who violate the norms of the profession and act in a manner that threatens public safety. PAs are similarly regulated by state PA practice acts.


9 For links to states’ licensing boards and their practice statutes, rules, procedures, decidions, and opinions, see the Federation of State Medical Boards' and the Nationa Council of State Boards of Nursing's websites at http://www.fsmb.org and http://www.ncsbn.org, respectively. Because federal laws affecting abortion services mostly concern eligibility for patient coverage or provider payment and not APC's authority to provide such services, they are not included in this analysis. See also Figure III.1 Section III.A of this document.

10 Copies of these statutes are available online at the website of each state’s Attorney General or Secretary of State. In addition, almost all states publish “Guides to Understanding” the Open Meetings laws or Administrative Procedures acts. These publications are invaluable aids in mastering the often-confusing procedural niceties of administrative process.