RALEIGH – Despite the efforts of an estimated 500 protesters, including Chapel Hill Town Council member Sally Greene, the state Senate approved a controversial bill Wednesday that allows for tighter abortion restrictions.
House Bill 695 passed by a vote of 29-12, and will return to the House for a final vote on the changes.
The bill was pushed through the Senate in less than 24 hours with little public notice.
“This particular act that happened last night with no procedure. It was a wake-up call. I am impressed with how quickly people became mobilized and were here to bear witness to this bill which substantially eradicated the constitutional right for a safe and legal abortion in North Carolina,” Greene said.
In response to this legislation, an impromptu protest took place outside the General Assembly Wednesday morning. It was organized by the pro-choice group, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League of North Carolina.
“It does seems to violate the kinds of processes that we have come to expect from our government at any level to allow time to deliberate what a bill is about, and what the actual consequence of it will be. It’s a terrible violation of process,” Greene said.
The new legislation would change clinic rules so they’re similar to those for ambulatory surgery centers – a move Planned Parenthood says will shut down providers. According to legislative staff, only one clinic in the state currently meets that standard. The state’s four Planned Parenthood clinics don’t meet the requirement, Greene explained. Other provisions of the bill would allow health care providers to choose not to provide abortion-related services and prohibit health federal health care plans from offering abortion coverage. It would prevent state funds from being spent on abortions, and also city/county health plans from covering abortions, unless it is to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.
“They have the numbers, the Republicans have the numbers. As Sen. Angela Bryant (Dem.) said on the floor a few hours ago, they [the Republicans] will win the day today but they are not necessarily going to win the war. This is a long process and the people of North Carolina are watching. There will be another day,” Greene said.
Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday that Senate Republicans who pushed the legislation through are completing business the same way that Democrats did when they were in charge of the General Assembly.
“It was not right then and it is not right now,” the governor said in a statement. “Regardless of what party is in charge or what important issue is being discussed, the process must be appropriate and thorough.”
Hear Greene’s full interview about the Senate’s decision: