North Carolina’s Republican Governor Threatens To Veto Stringent Abortion Bill

Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) (Credit: Takaaki Iwabu/The News & Observer)

North Carolina lawmakers are currently fast-tracking an anti-Sharia bill after tacking on several abortion-related amendments to the legislation, hoping to push through stringent abortion restrictions before the current session ends. But the GOP-controlled legislature may end up butting heads with Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who is threatening to veto the measure if it makes it to his desk in its current form.

In a statement released on Wednesday, McCrory’s office confirmed that the GOP governor won’t sign HB 695 “unless significant changes and clarifications are made.” The governor is concerned that the legislation’s language is too vague and will ultimately end up seriously compromising women’s reproductive access, since the sweeping anti-abortion bill threatens to shut down most of the abortion clinics in the state.

McCrory doesn’t support abortion, but promised during his campaign that he wouldn’t enact any more abortion-related restrictions in North Carolina in favor of focusing on economic issues. His statement also emphasized that the legislature should focus on their “unfinished business” and pass legislation to “grow the North Carolina economy.”

The governor has, however, reiterated that he supports measures “to protect the health and safety” of women who seek abortion care — and he has left open the possibility of approving HB 695 if he determines it will help meet those goals.

Supporters of HB 695 maintain that the measure is about safety, not about blocking access to clinics. But in reality, HB 695 mirrors anti-choice legislation in other states that exists solely to indirectly restrict women’s ability to get an abortion. A similar proposal in Texas, which would shutter 90 percent of the state’s abortion clinics, has inspired massive protests over the past few weeks.

And HB 695 is sparking protests of its own. On Monday, over 60 pro-choice activists were arrested in an act of civil disobedience as they stood up against the stringent abortion restrictions. Thousands of women’s health advocates rallied at the state capitol on Tuesday, as a House committee considered the legislation, and another protest is planned for Wednesday afternoon before the House brings HB 695 to a full floor vote.