Politicians should never make promises they can’t keep. Yes, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, I’m speaking to you—as a North Carolinian born and bred, let me officially say on behalf of my home state:
Shame, shame, shame!
On July 12, Gov. McCrory announced that he would sign the omnibus anti-abortion bill S. B. 353 if it landed on his desk. After the House version of the bill passed in the No. Carolina Senate last Thursday night, McCrory said:
The recent House version allows the medical professionals at the Department of Health and Human Services to write the rules which will ensure women’s safety. I want to thank those who worked on an improved bill which will better protect women while not further limiting access.
The next day, Gov. McCrory pledged to sign the bill at a press conference and this Monday signed it into law.
After signing the bill, McCrory told reporters that restricting abortion care was motivated by health concerns rather than GOP political strategy. Indeed, he blamed others for politicizing women’s health.
This law does not further limit access, and those who contend it does are more interested in politics than the health and safety of our citizens.
Similar to the restrictive abortion legislation Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law on July 18, this bill greatly limits access to abortion care as well as to other health services that women depend on—contraception, cancer screenings, HPV vaccinations, STI tests and sex-ed. S. B. 353 also bans sex-selective and telemedicine abortions, permits health care providers to opt out of performing abortions and prohibits abortions to be covered in insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.
While S. B. 353 does not explicitly require abortion clinics to meet unnecessary and expensive ambulatory surgical care standards, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will be able to enforce regulation as they see fit. That could threaten the closure of 15 of the state’s 16 abortion clinics, because only one clinic currently meets the ambulatory surgical care standards outlined in the bill. The Associated Press reports that meeting such standards of clinic construction costs about $1 million.
Although, Gov. McCrory claims that S. B. 353 will not restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion care, it is clear that his agenda certainly does not include protecting reproductive rights. Said Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina,
The restrictions on abortion care in S. B. 353 are exactly what Gov. McCrory promised he wouldn’t sign. North Carolina voters are watching and they will remember this in 2016.
This isn’t the first time McCrory went back on his word to voters. In his re-election campaign last year, he promised that he wouldn’t sign further abortion restrictions into law—yet he signed S. B. 132, an abortion education bill that requires public high school teachers to include scientifically unproven information linking abortion to higher risk for preterm birth.
Because the anti-abortion bill was tacked on to an unrelated motorcycle safety proposal, pro-choice activists drove motorcycles around the Governor’s mansion on Monday to show their opposition. Social media has referred to the bill as #motorcyclevagina since it was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on July 10.
According to NARAL Pro-Choice NC’s Twitter updates, after signing the bill McCrory waved to protesters from his balcony and on Tuesday, he profferred a plate of cookies to one of the women — with four security guards in tow — outside of his gated residence. According to The News & Observer McCrory has refused to talk to any of the protesters.
In response, Planned Parenthood tweeted this image:
Let them eat cake, right, Governor?
From voter suppression laws to repressive abortion measures, this North Carolina legislative session has been nothing short of abysmal. As Buzzfeed’s Jamison Doran wrote in summation of the “achievements” of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature,
The state, once a beacon of progress in the south, has been turned upside down into a complete and utter embarrassment and has given credence to the stereotypes that have plagued it for years.
Clearly there is much progressive work to do.