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Constitution of North Carolina

ARTICLE XI Punishments, Corrections, and Charities

Sec. 4. Welfare policy; board of public welfare.

Beneficent provision for the poor, the unfortunate, and the orphan is one of the first duties of a civilized and a Christian state. Therefore the General Assembly shall provide for and define the duties of a board of public welfare.

History Note. - The provisions of this section are similar to those of Art. XI, § 7, Const. 1868.

Legal Periodicals. - For article, "The Obligation of North Carolina Municipalities and Hospital Authorities to Provide Uncompensated Hospital Care to the Medically Indigent," see 20 Wake Forest L. Rev. 317 (1984).

For article discussing the rise and decline of North Carolina Abortion Fund, see 22 Campbell L. Rev. 119 (1999).

CASE NOTES

Editor's Note. - Some of the cases cited below were decided under former Art. XI, § 7, Const. 1868.

Duty of State to Furnish Medical Care to Indigent Sick, etc. - The obligation to pay the cost of medical care of the indigent sick and afflicted poor rests, under this section, upon the State. Board of Managers v. City of Wilmington, 237 N.C. 179, 74 S.E.2d 749 (1953).

Delegation of Duty to Counties, etc. - In accordance with the express constitutional declaration of this section, the care of the indigent sick and afflicted poor is a proper function of the State government, and the General Assembly may by statute require the counties, as administrative agencies of the State, to perform this function, at least within their territorial limits. Martin v. Board of Comm'rs, 208 N.C. 354, 180 S.E. 777 (1935).

The General Assembly may by statute delegate a portion of its sovereignty to the governing body of any town or city or county, separately or jointly, who, when they deem it for the best interest of the town or city or county, may contract with hospitals for the medical treatment and hospitalization of the sick and afflicted poor of the town or city or county within their territorial limits. Board of Managers v. City of Wilmington, 237 N.C. 179, 74 S.E.2d 749 (1953).

Obligation of County to Pay for Health Care of Indigent Sick. - A county does not have an obligation, under N.C. Const., Art. XI, § 3 and this section, to pay for hospital care to its indigent residents. In the absence of a delegation by the State to the counties of the obligation to pay the costs of medical care of the indigent sick, such obligation is that of the State. Craven County Hosp. Corp. v. Lenoir County, 75 N.C. App. 453, 331 S.E.2d 690, cert. denied, 314 N.C. 663, 336 S.E.2d 620 (1985).

Restrictions on Funding Medically Necessary Abortions for Indigent Women. - The action of the General Assembly in placing severe restrictions on the funding of medically necessary abortions for indigent women is valid and does not violate Article I, Section 1; Article 1, Section 19; or Article XI, Section 4 of the Constitution of North Carolina. Rosie J. v. North Carolina Dep't of Human Resources, 347 N.C. 247, 491 S.E.2d 535 (1997).

There is no contractual duty on the part of the State to care for and maintain the mentally ill, the State hospitals being charitable institutions of the State, maintained voluntarily. State ex rel. State Hosp. v. Security Nat'l Bank, 207 N.C. 697, 178 S.E. 487, cert. denied, 295 U.S. 761, 55 S. Ct. 921, 79 L. Ed. 1704 (1935).

County Home. - The building of a county home is for a class of citizens without a place of residence, beneficent provision for whom is recommended by this section; therefore, a county may pledge its faith and credit and issue valid bonds for that purpose, without the approval of its voters. Board of Comm'rs v. Sidney Spitzer & Co., 173 N.C. 147, 91 S.E. 707 (1917).

Under this section, a county may build a county home for the poor without the approval of the voters. Board of Managers v. City of Wilmington, 237 N.C. 179, 74 S.E.2d 749 (1953).

Cited in Vaughn v. Durham County Dep't of Social Servs., 34 N.C. App. 416, 240 S.E.2d 456 (1977); Casey v. Wake County, 45 N.C. App. 522, 263 S.E.2d 360 (1980); State ex rel. K.M. v. W. Va. Dep't of Health & Human Res., 212 W. Va. 783, 575 S.E.2d 393 (2002).

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