Republican legislators in the North Carolina state senate have tacked on "a suite of new restrictions and regulations pertaining to abortion clinics" to "House Bill 695, which prohibits the recognition of foreign law, such as Islamic Sharia law, in family courts." This last-minute addition was "was unveiled unexpectedly during an unusual late-day committee meeting," because, according to Republican State Senator Buck Newton, who chairs the Judiciary 1 Committee, "It just took a while for there to be a consensus of support for it within our caucus. Sometimes these things come together at the last minute."
Except, after a recess called in an all-day session at 5:20, which had no abortion bills scheduled for consideration, the committee reconvened at 5:30 and immediately "took up an amendment to revise HB 695 to include the regulations on abortion." Further:
"They're doing it quietly on Fourth of July weekend because they've seen what's going on in Texas and know that women will turn out," Melissa Reed, vice president of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems said, referring to the protests surrounding a similar bill in Texas. She said Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights advocates had no idea the measure would be taken up Tuesday.So pro-choice advocates were not notified, and anti-choice advocates were. Because when Republicans can't win outright, they break the rules.
Lobbyists with nonprofits that have religious or moral purposes, including the Family Policy Council, Christian Action League and N.C. Values Coalition, were in the room for the committee debate and the subsequent Senate floor debate. Senators noted that those lobbyists were given notice of the bill and its contents ahead of time.
The amended bill "tentatively passed" the Senate yesterday, and there will be further debate again today before the bill is returned to the House for a vote.
On the Senate floor, Democrats objected to the measure being pushed through so unexpectedly.No. No, it is not appropriate. This behavior is anything but appropriate.
"This bill and this process is not worthy of this chamber," said Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake. He said the process circumvented the public's ability to learn about legislation before it was discussed and voted on.
...As for amending the bill and bringing it to the floor right away, [Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger] said, "It is not something that is unheard of. It is not something that is inappropriate, in my opinion."
NARAL North Carolina has information about how to take action here. If you're in Raleigh, and can get to the General Assembly, head on over there for a protest to let them know that pro-choice North Carolina is watching and has a voice.
You can watch a live feed of the debate here.
If you have other suggestions for how best to support choice in North Carolina and let Republican legislators there know the nation is watching them, please leave them in comments.
[H/T to Shaker purplefinch.]
UPDATE: The NC Senate has approved the bill. It now goes to the House for a concurrence vote. Republican Governor Pat McCrory has not indicated whether he will sign the bill, but said in a statement: "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." All right then. So show that you're the allegedly more principled party and veto it.