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Nobody wants there to be more abortions in North Carolina. The issue is women’s health and the fact that thousands of women every year must grapple with unintended pregnancies. Happily, as the lead editorial in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer reminds us, there is a way to get after both problems: readily accessible birth control:

“The number of abortions in North Carolina has been dropping sharply even as Republican legislators step up efforts to make the procedure more difficult to obtain.

The decline was documented in an Associated Press survey of 45 states that keep abortion records. North Carolina had the nation’s second-biggest drop with the number of abortions falling 26 percent from 2010 to 2013. Nationwide, the survey showed a decrease in abortions of about 12 percent since 2010.”

But, as the editorial also notes:

“There’s no evidence that women choosing against abortion because of new state restrictions are numerous enough to account for the drop. The Associated Press survey found that abortions also were down in states that haven’t tightened their laws. The biggest decrease in abortion, percentage-wise, was in Hawaii, a state with relatively liberal abortion policies….

What is accounting for the decrease in abortions is a decrease in the condition that precedes an abortion: pregnancy. In North Carolina, according to the latest statistics available, reported pregnancies dropped from 148,922 in 2010 to 139,582 in 2013. Abortions likewise fell from 30,952 to 22,820.”

In other words:

“The way to further reduce abortion in North Carolina isn’t to cut funding for Planned Parenthood but to increase funding for sex education and contraception.”

What a tragedy it is that those who fight to ban abortion and send women back to the back alleys (are you listening Governor McCrory?) can’t at least see this reality and join the effort to stop unintended pregnancies from happening in the first place.

Commentary

6-8-15-NEW-NCPW-CARTOONThis morning’s edition of “Monday Numbers” has all the sobering stats you could want regarding Governor McCrory’s rather remarkable decision to go back on his 2012 campaign promise in which he pledged not to approve any new restrictions on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.

Click here if you haven’t already tired of watching McCrory’s now infamous one word promise on the subject.

Not surprisingly, the Guv didn’t issue any kind of special statement to accompany his decision to approve the bill. Rather, he simply listed the bill number with eight others and slapped it onto the bottom of his announcement to finally grant the pardons to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown.h465-announcement

That was courageous.

Meanwhile, reaction from advocates for women’s’ health and reproductive freedom are responding to the Governor’s regrettable decision. This is from the ACLU of North Carolina:

Gov. McCrory Signs New Abortion Restrictions, Breaking Campaign Promise Again

RALEIGH – On Friday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed HB 465, a bill that will triple the mandatory waiting time for abortion care to 72 hours, making North Carolina only the fifth state in the nation with such a lengthy forced delay. During his 2012 campaign for governor, McCrory vowed to sign no further restrictions on abortion access.

“For the second time, Governor McCrory has broken his promise to sign no new restrictions on abortion access in our state, making it clear that he does not respect a woman’s ability to make her own personal health care decisions,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “This shameful law will do nothing to help women in North Carolina. Instead, it will force a woman to endure an unnecessary and potentially harmful delay before receiving the care that she and her doctor have decided is right for her.”

In 2013, McCrory signed a bill that authorized severe and medically unnecessary restrictions on women’s health clinics that provide abortions

A forced waiting period is not necessary because a woman who has decided to have an abortion has already carefully considered her decision. New polling shows that most Americans identify as pro-choice and that seven in 10 Americans say that a woman who has decided to have an abortion should be able to do so without additional hurdles.

Medical experts say that these bills do not help women. Instead, they can push abortion later into pregnancy and subject women to stigma and shame. These bills have no medical basis, and medical groups like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose these types of laws.

Commentary

Pat McCrory 4On Wednesday evening, Governor McCrory stated that he is planning on signing the controversial House Bill 465 when it reaches his desk. The Governor’s statement came hours after the House voted 71 to 43 to make the bill, which includes a 72-hour abortion waiting period, law in North Carolina.

The Governor’s decision came as a shock to those who had trusted him to stay true to his word. During his 2012 campaign, McCrory promised he would not sign any additional restrictions on abortions into law. However in 2013, he signed a bill creating unnecessary regulations for abortion clinics and further restricting insurance coverage of abortions. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, it was expected that when faced with a blatant abortion restriction, the Governor would veto the bill. It is clear now that McCrory has no intention of keeping his campaign promise. He is happy with the revised version of the bill; he has declared that it will positively protect women’s health. (Scroll down to see the video of the Governor’s now blatantly broken 2012 pledge and his explanation of the first time he went back on it).

The HB 465 that the Governor plans to sign looks nothing like the bill that was first introduced in April, with one exception: the mandated 72-hour waiting period.

The initial version of the bill included strong restrictions on the ability of doctors and UNC system hospitals to perform safe abortions. The final version leaves out the restrictions on UNC but adds in tougher laws against statutory rape and sex offenses. It also adds protections for victims of domestic violence. With the second edition of the bill, it appeared that the Legislature had realized the error of their ways and the absurdity of preventing one of the best ob-gyn programs in the country from teaching this family planning skill. Unfortunately, that clarity did not last long. Within weeks, without providing a reason, the Republican-controlled Senate decided to dump unrelated criminal justice provisions into the bill.

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News

Governor Pat McCrory ended the suspense on Wednesday, issuing a statement saying that he would sign House Bill 465, legislation that triples the waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

McCrory said he believes the bill serves to better protect women:

“Regarding HB 465, some very positive progress was made during the last several days to protect women’s health. Working with House and Senate members, we ensured that contact, including a simple phone call, would start a reasonable process that protects women’s health, and we also more clearly and rationally defined medical training and qualifications to ensure there will be no further restrictions on access. In addition, there are other provisions that protect children in the bill, something my administration sought. Therefore, I will sign this bill.”

Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, doesn’t see it that way:

“A woman is more than capable of taking the time she needs to make her own personal medical decisions without the government forcing her to endure an unnecessary and potentially harmful delay.”

Preston joins us this weekend on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon to discuss HB 465 and the ACLU’s reservations regarding Senate Bill 2. For a preview of that radio interview, click below:

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Commentary, News

1. So much for the charade of moderation in the General Assembly  

When the state House passed its budget last week, Rep. Chuck McGrady noted its bipartisan support in a tweet that captured what the House leadership wanted people to think was happening in the General Assembly.

“Sounds like the Speaker is leading from the middle,” McGrady wrote, extolling the allegedly moderate leadership of House Speaker Tim Moore. Folks can disagree about the virtues and flaws in the House budget—which falls well short of making the investments the state needs—but it is indeed less radical than budgets passed by either chamber of the legislature in recent years.

All signs of moderation vanished this week. [Continue reading…]

2. Mixed messages for whistleblowers?
“Ag Gag” proposal, “Burt’s Law” push in opposite directions

Editor’s note: Governor Pat McCrory issued a veto for HB 405 (the so-called Ag-Gag bill) on Friday urging lawmakers to add protections for employees who report illegal activities to authorities.

Governor McCrory signed a bill yesterday that is designed to spur action from would-be whistleblowers who work in the group home and nursing home industries. The new statute, which has been dubbed “Burt’s Law” in recognition of a developmentally disabled man who was sexually abused by a manager in a Catawba County group home, would make it a crime for employees or volunteers in such facilities not to report such information. [Continue Reading…]

3. Latest batch of prospective charter schools moves forward with concerns
State Board of Education meets next week to grant final approval

Back in 2013, when members of a state board tasked with reviewing charter school applications only greenlighted a handful of schools out of many hopefuls to open in the following year, they found themselves in the middle of a political firestorm.

“The plan was to have [charter] operators come into the state like they did in Louisiana and other states and quickly affect the public school choice landscape for the better and in quantity,” said Charter School Advisory Board member Alan Hawkes in an email to fellow CSAB board members in late 2013. [Continue Reading….]

4. Next up in the House: Another lawsuit waiting to happen
North Carolina poised to become the nation’s first state with a law allowing public officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples on religious objection grounds

Editor’s note: Governor Pat McCrory issued a veto for SB 2 on Thursday, May 28th. The Legislature may attempt to override his veto.

The bill allowing magistrates to refuse to perform otherwise lawful marriages based upon religious objections moves on in the House today after passing the Senate in February, set for a hearing in Judiciary Committee I just after noon.

Senate Bill 2 — a product of the dust-up over federal court rulings allowing same-sex marriages to proceed in North Carolina – would give refuge to magistrates who refuse to comply with those rulings under color of their professed faith.

Though lawmakers couched their text in broad and vague terms, their intent in pushing the bill was clear: Stop gay marriages. [Continue Reading….]

****Bonus video: Watch House members debate SB2:

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5. Head of North Carolina’s charter school office leaving, taking job with controversial virtual charter school

The head of North Carolina’s office overseeing charter schools is leaving for a job with a controversial virtual charter school opening up this year.

Joel Medley, who had headed the N.C. Department of Public Instruction since 2011, is leaving his state job to become the head of school for the N.C Virtual Academy. The school is a new online charter school opening this summer that will be run by the Wall Street-traded for-profit education company K12, Inc. (NYSE:LRN).

“I have accepted a position at the NC Virtual Academy in June and will serve as the head of school — returning back to my roots as a school administrator,” Medley wrote Thursday in an email to N.C Policy Watch. “It has been an honor to serve here in the Department and I look forward to this new opportunity.” [Continue Reading.…]