Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the legislature’s greatly unfavorable bill, SB 353, also known as the “Motorcycle Vagina” bill.
The “Motorcycle Vagina” bill was originally presented to the Senate as a bill that would increase methods of motorcycle safety. However, in reality, the majority of SB 353 was actually dedicated to accessibility of abortion, which made it difficult for women to access sanitary and reliable clinics. Additionally, it prohibited insurance plans, even those under the Affordable Care Act, to pay for abortions as well as required the presence of a doctor at all times when a patient is given drugs for inducing abortions.
Abortion rights advocates in North Carolina say they are in the dark about the new rules required by the year-old law that they fear could effectively shut down many of the state’s clinics.
The law will require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as outpatient surgical centers. The state has 15 abortion clinics. The only facility that had met the current standards for surgical centers no longer provides abortions.
Lawmakers and groups like Planned Parenthood are waiting for the state Department of Health and Human Services to draft new rules, but say they’ve heard nothing yet on what they will look like.
The agency would not comment on what the rules would include, but said that it is still working on writing them. The legislature did not set a deadline for when the rules had to be completed.
Despite the disapproval of a vast number of North Carolina citizens, the bill was introduced in the middle of the night, which sparked immense controversy over women’s rights in the previous session.
Speaker of the House and now Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Thom Tillis was one of the politicians that worked to make certain that this bill was passed. He continued to push this bill; despite the 80 percent of voters in North Carolina that believed it was not appropriate to include restrictions on abortion within a bill about motorcycle safety.
Some politicians spoke out claiming that they did not even know that these changes had been made to include legislation about abortion availability, while others voted despite the abortion pieces in order to increase safety for motorcyclists.
There was even a Moral Monday protest, focusing exclusively on women’s rights and leadership, which followed the passing of the infamous bill. It ended up being one of the largest turn-outs the protest event has seen, and ended in hundreds of arrests.
SB 353 proved to be a seriously controversial bill that had some calling into question the morality and acceptability of utilizing one particular proposal to pass legislation regarding something that is wholly unrelated. Opponents said it significantly jeopardized women’s rights and created a highly unfavorable situation for all members of the North Carolina Senate.