Bad process, bad bill

Jul. 04, 2013 @ 05:16 PM

One state government leader, reflecting on the State Senate’s surprise attack on abortion rights this week, summed it up perfectly in our view.

“When the Democrats were in power, this is the way they did business. It was not right then, and it is not right now. Regardless of what party is in charge or what important issue is being discussed, the process must be appropriate and thorough.”

That was not some disgruntled liberal lobbyist or defeated legislator talking.

It was Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, reacting Wednesday as the Senate was giving routine final approval to a bill it had endorsed Tuesday evening, in a move that caught those who opposed the move completely by surprise.

It should be noted it did not catch proponents by surprise – supporters of the legislation were in the galleries to watch the bulldozer move ahead on the Senate floor.

The governor’s primary objection was to the process, not the substance of the legislation.  He has yet to indicate whether he would sign or veto the bill – or allow it to become law without his signature. But as Sen. Mike Woodard of Durham noted on Wednesday, McCrory signaled during the campaign that he wasn’t especially interested in joining the culture-war zealots in his party in further undercutting a woman’s constitutional right to make decisions regarding ending a pregnancy.

Woodard recalled to The Herald-Sun’s April Dudash Wednesday that the governor had said in a campaign debate that he wouldn’t sign any legislation that’s “more restrictive” than current regulations.

While its backers might try to portray it magnanimously as a bill to look out for women’s welfare and safety – in remarks that smacked of enormous condescension – this bill is a frontal assault on abortion rights. Its restrictions – similar to those sought in many states this year – would shut down most if not all of the 16 abortion clinics in North Carolina.

The bill would prohibit gender-selective abortions. While even many supporters of abortion rights might abhor that as a reason, it’s hard to imagine how to determine that motive without a doctor’s invasive and inappropriate grilling of a patient.

The bill would restrict abortion insurance coverage and would require a physician to be present during an entire surgical abortion or when a woman takes an abortion-reducing drug. That’s another effort to essentially cripple the ability to obtain an abortion – and with no evidence that the absence of such requirements has led to negative consequences.

The Senate has passed a bad bill, and in a process that makes a mockery of legislative deliberation and debate.

The State House should stop it in its tracks. And if they fail to do so, we trust that McCrory will remember his campaign pledge.