A North Carolina abortion controversy has erupted after a “sneak attack” bit of legislation from anti-abortion factions allowed restrictive legislation to move forward in the state.
Reproductive rights activists surprised by North Carolina’s abortion legislation are crying foul, after attention in recent weeks has been focused on anti-abortion measures underway in Texas, threatening the ability of most of the state’s clinics to stay open. GOP lawmakers in Texas have admitted the aim of abortion laws proposed in that state is to make it difficult for any clinics to stay open and provide abortions to women in Texas.
The North Carolina abortion laws were tacked on to a measure addressing “Sharia law,” and Tuesday night, appeared in the news with little foreknowledge among media and reproductive rights advocates.
Abortion rights advocates say that North Carolina lawmakers did not play fair, and Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, told a local news source that the move was intentionally underhanded and secretive in order to prevent constituents from weighing in and to stave off lawful objection:
It seems to me that they’re trying to pass under cover of darkness legislation that would not otherwise be passed … They’re trying to pull a Texas.
NARAL hastily assembled supporters to observe from the gallery, where cries of “shame” were reported today as the measure was passed.
Melissa Reed, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, commented on what the North Carolina abortion restrictions mean to women in the state:
“The intention of the folks that made the changes to this bill is to end access to abortion care in North Carolina … It’s a wish list of all the restrictions they’ve been trying to get through and weren’t able to during the regular time period of this session. It would end basically access to medical abortion; it could shut down a large number of providers in this state.”
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, said as she observed protestors:
“The bill today is about protecting women’s health. It’s about making abortion clinics safe. We don’t want to become the Gosnell of the South. We’re firmly behind the bill.”
However, the North Carolina abortion measures restricting medical abortions will make early abortions more difficult to obtain. Kermit Gosnell, the abortion provider Fitzgerald cites, trafficked largely in late-term abortions — the sort that RU486 prevents, and for which the medication cannot be used.