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McCrory budgetIt’s been great to see Gov. McCrory veto two major pieces of legislation in as many days. His rejection of the absurd bill to re-institute marriage discrimination and the overly-broad proposal to limit free speech by employees who witness objectionable things in their workplaces (aka the “Ag Gag” bill)  constitutes a welcome departure from his normal posture vis a vis the General Assembly — i.e. serving mostly as a doormat.

That said, there are two obvious next steps for the Governor if he wants this little episode to amount to anything more than just a brief and quickly forgotten hiccup in the Raleigh policy battles.

First, he needs to veto the dangerous anti-abortion bill that lawmakers will send to him next week. The Guv promised during his 2012 campaign that he would approve no more restrictions on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion and there is simply no way to spin House Bill 465 as anything other than just that.

Second, he needs to take the next step and figure out a way to use the hint of a backbone he’s recently discovered as means of becoming the kind of leader who can effectively negotiate with the General Assembly before it ever gets to the point at which  he has to use the veto. The Guv is (or, at least, ought to be) the most visible and powerful Republican in North Carolina. That he has been so utterly inept in driving or even managing the agenda of a legislature controlled by members of his own party might just be unprecedented in recent state history. Until not that long ago, Gov. Jim Hunt exercised enormous control over a General Assembly of his party without the power to veto.

The bottom line: Two and a half years into his term, Pat McCrory has begun to learn how to crawl as Governor. If he wants to stand, walk upright and lead, he needs to do a lot more.

Commentary

Durham physicians David Grimes and Amy Bryant authored an excellent op-ed for this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer that aptly describes the new abortion waiting period bill recently adopted by the state House. This is from the essay;

“These delays translate into increased risk and expense. No medical justification exists for these waiting periods, and paradoxically they can cause harm: While abortion is an extremely safe procedure, it is safest when done as early as possible in the pregnancy. Thus, HB465 could have the unintended consequence of causing abortion complications.”

The doctors offered these real life examples from their practices:

“One of our patients was a young mother of two whose abusive boyfriend hit her multiple times in the abdomen while pregnant. She made the courageous decision to leave that relationship, get a restraining order and have an abortion. Having to wait three days after contacting the clinic could have put her life in jeopardy if her partner had discovered her plans. Another patient had a desired pregnancy but learned that her fetus had no kidneys. It would not survive if born. The diagnosis was not made until she was at the upper gestational-age limit for abortion. Having to wait another three days would have meant that she would need to travel out of state, at great expense, to have her procedure.”

They concluded this way:

“HB465 is bad medicine. The World Health Organization advises, “Once the decision is made by the woman, abortion should be provided as soon as is possible to do so.” Thus, HB465 directly contradicts the medical advice of the World Health Organization.

Groucho Marx once commented that, ‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.’ His critique certainly applies to HB465. Medical care should be directed by licensed physicians and other health professionals, not by part-time politicians unaware of the realities of medical practice. North Carolinians deserve better.”

Read the entire op-ed by clicking here.

Commentary

(This post has been updated) The House Health Committee just passed a new anti-abortion bill this morning. The revised House Bill 465, which was unveiled just minutes before the meeting this morning (the current version isn’t even available online yet), includes a 72 hour waiting period for women seeking this particular health procedure. Only two other states have such an an onerous requirement. Pro-choice advocates at NARAL Pro-Choice NC, who were completely denied an opportunity even to be heard this morning during the 45 minute meeting, issued the following statement:

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Statement: H.B. 465 in NO Way Helps Women

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina opposes House Bill 465 because it will not help women. The bill’s 72-hour abortion waiting period regulation is medically unnecessary. We are disappointed that at today’s House Health Committee meeting, only one pro-choice speaker was allowed to be heard. We brought a number of physicians and medical professionals prepared to speak to the problems with this bill and their information was never allowed to reach House Committee members.

H.B. 465 would make it harder for women, who have made a choice about their own body, by making them wait 72 hours, instead of the current 24 hour period, between asking for an abortion and being legally permitted to get one. Mandatory delay laws such as these would endanger women’s health and create additional burdens for North Carolina women, especially women in rural areas who often have to travel for many hours to reach a health-care provider, and for women who do not have the resources to take extra time off work or to pay for child-care. According to a study conducted in Texas, on average women travel 42 miles to visit their nearest clinic (although some women had to travel up to 400 miles) and incur an average of $146 in costs to the additional waiting period. These restrictions have a disproportional impact on low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, and young women. Women who want to get abortions but are denied are three times more likely to fall into poverty than those who can get an abortion, according to recent studies.

The study also showed that waiting periods do not do anything to sway women’s decisions about terminating a pregnancy, but are simply emotional manipulation tactics to shame women and make them feel guilty about making decisions about their own bodies. One third of the participants in the study said the waiting period negatively affected their well-being. Read More

Commentary

Women’s advocates at NARAL Pro-Choice NC, N.C. Women United, NC NOW and Progress NC will be delivering petitions to Senator Thom Tillis’ office in Raleigh this afternoon. This is from the new release (which also includes a link to new and encouraging polling numbers — see after the page break):

Thousands Demand Senators Tillis and Burr Protect Sex Trafficking Survivors Now, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and Local Leaders to Deliver Petitions

Sen. Tillis’ Office in Raleigh, NC to be Inundated with Petitions on Wednesday at 2:00PM

On Wednesday April 8, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice America, Progress NC Action, NC NOW (National Organization for Women), and NC Women United, will deliver thousands of petitions to the district office of Senator Tillis telling him to stop playing politics and pass a clean Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act for the health and safety of exploited women and children.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue had this to say:

“Instead of pushing for the immediate care that survivors of sex trafficking need, Senators Tillis and Burr are treating them like political pawns by stalling this important bill to advance their anti-choice agenda. Given that thousands of American women and children are coerced into performing commercial sex acts for the financial gain of criminals every year, the with banning abortion regardless of individual circumstances is incredibly dangerous. We will accept nothing less than unfettered access to a full range of reproductive health care services for trafficking survivors from our representatives in Congress.”

WHAT: Petition delivery calling for a clean Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
WHO: NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and local leaders
WHEN: April 8, 2:00PM
WHERE: 310 New Bern Avenue Raleigh, NC 27601

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Executive Director, Shoshannah Sayers had this to say: Read More

Commentary

Abortion protestWomen’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies took another blow yesterday and this time the strike was aimed at doctors too.

While proponents of women’s rights were still reeling from the anti-abortion Senate bill filed last week, HB 465 was introduced, yesterday, containing the most restrictive proposed abortion restrictions North Carolina has seen in a long time.

As is typical with anti-abortion bills, the new laws would make it harder for women, who have made a choice about their own body, by making them wait 72 hours, instead of the current 24 hour period, between asking for an abortion and being legally permitted to get one.

According to NARAL Pro-Choice NC:

[M]andatory delay laws such as these would endanger women’s health and “create additional burdens for North Carolina women, especially women in rural areas who often have to travel for many hours to reach a health-care provider, and for women who do not have the resources to take extra time off work or to pay for child-care.”

The real dagger in the bill, however, is how it would dictate doctor’s rights to make decisions based on his or her own ethics and education. Almost every provision of the bill would narrow the pool of doctors available to perform abortions, until North Carolina is left with zero doctors able to perform safe abortions—which is obviously the intent of the bill’s sponsors.

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