House Republicans have tweaked SB 353 — a transportation measure that was approved by the Senate in April — to include most of the same abortion restrictions they attached to the anti-Sharia bill last week. Now, in addition to changing safety standards for motorcycle riders, the legislation would also place burdensome regulations on abortion clinics that could force many of them to close their doors.
The decision to amend SB 353 came just hours after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) threatened to veto the stringent abortion amendments tacked onto the anti-Sharia measure. The Republican governor expressed concerns that the abortion provisions were too broad and would end up simply limiting women’s access to reproductive care — a well-founded fear that has been confirmed by women’s health advocates in the state. GOP lawmakers are hoping the new amendments attached to the motorcycle bill, which are slightly narrower in scope, will address those concerns and ultimately win McCrory’s approval.
The abortion restrictions were approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning after a party-line vote. Democrats in the House had no idea that their GOP colleagues had plans to add the abortion-related amendments to SB 353. Some of them found out just three minutes before the committee meeting began.
“The process here is just dead wrong,” Rep. Joe Sam Queen (D) said in reference to the last-minute addition of the abortion restrictions.
Republicans used a similar under-the-radar process to sneak abortion provisions onto the Sharia-related bill. Before the Senate health committee tacked on those amendments, the committee’s public schedule made no mention that reproductive health issues would be up for debate. McCrory condemned that stealth move last week.
“It is a disgrace to North Carolina that legislators have again resorted to sneak attacks to move their anti-women’s health agenda forward,” Melissa Reed, Planned Parenthood Health Systems’s Vice President of Public Affairs, said in a statement. “This is outrageous and not how the people’s business should be conducted.”
The Associated Press reports that Republicans expect to debate SB 353 in the House this afternoon and pass it sometime later this week. North Carolina Democrats, on the other hand, are trying to negotiate a delay to give the public a chance to hear the debate and testify on the legislation.