Women and North Carolina GOP Lose Upon Implementation of New State Abortion Restrictions

Today North Carolina's new oppressive anti-choice law goes into effect and no North Carolina woman is safer or healthier because of it. But the biggest loser of all may be North Carolina's Gov. Pat McCrory, who violated a clear campaign promise when he signed the legislation into law.

The policies that go into effect today have the potential of severely restricting a woman's right to choose -- and for that reason North Carolinians descended upon the state house to illustrate our fierce opposition. On July 25th, I personally helped deliver more than 35,000 thousand petitions to McCory's office urging a gubernatorial veto. Despite this effort, and in the face of widespread public disapproval and mass protests, McCrory signed the new law. Further, in what may go down in history as the most patronizing stunt ever by an elected official, instead of honestly explaining why he broke his promise, he literally offered the women of North Carolina a plate of cookies.

In a pastiche of right-wing paranoia and cowardice, this law was attached to two bills during the legislative process, one that nominally focused on motorcycle safety, and another that sought to ban Sharia law. Despite the North Carolina GOP's attempt to muddle the conversation, it is clear the legislation's sole purpose was to unfairly target a woman's access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare and limit the ability of North Carolina's municipalities to provide comprehensive healthcare to their employees. Many expect the new "safety" standards the governor imposed on abortion clinics to lead to their closure, thus jeopardizing women's health and safety.

We might be relieved and grateful to the Governor for expressing such a deep concern for the safety of women, if it wasn't so obvious that his deep ideological opposition to abortion was the fundamental reason for the legislation. The true intention of the North Carolina GOP is found in the portion of the law that restricts access to comprehensive health coverage for city and county employees.

Because of this law, I can no longer offer comprehensive reproductive health care to my employees as part of a benefits package -- even though I am Mayor of Chapel Hill. With this provision, the State is micromanaging what healthcare options a city is able to offer. Because of this, municipalities in North Carolina are in a weaker position in our negotiations with private insurers -- just at the time when fiscal challenges make it important for us to be get the best value and the best employees for our taxpayers.

The claims of McCrory and others in the North Carolina GOP that the legislation is about safety are absurd. Restricting their health care options does not offer a benefit to the health and safety of women in North Carolina. All of our employees, whether male or female, should be given broad access to services necessary for their health and well-being. McCrory and the legislature both know this bill was always about limiting health care options for municipal employees, restricting municipal officials' ability provide coverage, and was never a legitimate safety measure.

Municipal employees are not the only people in North Carolina who are going to have their reproductive health compromised by this legislature. The North Carolina GOP has also stripped abortion coverage out of the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplace in North Carolina.

The abortion bill is not about women's safety, it is about ideological opposition to abortion and the radical North Carolina GOP. It is just one of the many radical proposals implemented since the GOP took control of North Carolina for the first time in over 100 years. Other examples of radical GOP public policy include the restrictive voter ID laws that target minority voters and college students, and a budget which substantially defunds public education.

Ultimately, the short reign of the North Carolina GOP and the regressive policies they have put forward will serve as a lesson for voters and a cautionary tale for politicians who, like our governor, would put run on dishonest moderate rhetoric and make campaign promises that they have no intention of keeping.