Starting on Monday, women’s health advocates will hold a two-day vigil outside Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) mansion, pressuring him to stick to his campaign promise and refrain from enacting any new abortion restrictions while in office. Despite his earlier pledge that he will focus on economic issues rather than working to restrict reproductive access, the governor indicated on Friday that he plans to approve SB 353, a stringent anti-abortion measure.
North Carolina’s legislative session concluded last week after lawmakers approved several far-right measures at the last minute — including harsh restrictions on abortion providers that were rammed through after being attached to a motorcycle safety bill. Eighty percent of North Carolina voters think it’s “inappropriate” to tack abortion restrictions onto unrelated bills. Nevertheless, SB 353 sailed through the legislature in about three weeks, and McCrory has said he will sign it.
“Gov. McCrory has proven he cannot be trusted,” North Carolina’s Planned Parenthood affiliate says in a Facebook announcement about this week’s upcoming protests. “He has pledged to break his promise to North Carolina women and sign serious restrictions to safe and legal abortion care in North Carolina.”
The protests are expected to last 12 hours a day on both Monday and Tuesday. On Monday night, activists plan to circle the governor’s mansion on motorcycles. When SB 353 first began moving through the legislature, protesters donned motorcycle helmets to make the point that transportation regulations have nothing to do with women’s health.
“North Carolinians must keep making our voices heard and tell the Governor that we will not stand for legislation that will hurt women and could dramatically restrict access to safe, legal abortion,” Planned Parenthood’s Facebook event explains. The recent pro-choice activism is situated within a broader series of weekly progressive protests — dubbed “Moral Mondays” — as thousands of state residents have pushed back against their legislature’s increasingly far-right agenda. Even though the legislative session has now concluded and the General Assembly has left town, a final Moral Monday protest is slated for this week.
Outside of North Carolina, pro-choice activists have been fighting back in other states, too. 2013 has been one of the worst years for reproductive freedom in recent history — and as a mounting pile of state-level restrictions threaten abortion access across the country, grassroots activism has begun to take hold, most notably in Texas.