CREDIT: Planned Parenthood
Before North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) was elected, he promised not to spend his time in the governor’s mansion enacting any new restrictions on abortion, pledging to focus on the economy instead. He broke that promise on Monday night. McCrory approved Senate Bill 353, a package of controversial abortion restrictions that threatens to severely limit reproductive access by shutting down clinics.
SB 353 requires abortion clinics to meet the same standards as surgical centers, an increasingly popular state-level tactic designed to target abortion providers. A similar measure recently passed in Texas has inspired massive protests over the past two months. On top of that, SB 353 also allows health providers to deny their patients abortion care based on their own religious beliefs and prevents government-run health insurance plans from covering abortion services.
The governor contends that the new abortion restrictions — which were tacked onto an unrelated motorcycle safety measure at the beginning of this month — don’t count toward his campaign promise because they won’t actually compromise reproductive rights. “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,” McCrory said in a statement.
Medical experts disagree. The two leading groups of women’s health experts in the state — the North Carolina Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (NCOGS) and the North Carolina Section of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (NC ACOG) — have both come out in opposition to the legislation, saying that imposing harsh restrictions on abortion providers won’t actually do anything to improve women’s health. “Passage of these bills, which are not based on science, will have a detrimental effect on the health of women in North Carolina,” the doctors’ groups recently warned, encouraging lawmakers to reject the proposed measures.
Women’s health advocates rallied outside the governor’s mansion on Monday in the hopes of pressuring McCrory to veto the legislation. During the rally, protesters received word that the governor had added his signature to SB 353. Nonetheless, they have no plans of letting up. Anti-choice activists rode motorcycles around McCrory’s mansion on Monday night to highlight the fact that the abortion restrictions were pushed through as amendments to a transportation bill. A second rally will be held on Tuesday.
“[The governor] has signed the most restrictive access to safe and legal abortions this state has ever seen,” Melissa Reed, the vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood, pointed out. “We will make sure women know Gov. McCrory can’t be trusted.”