North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law Monday a sweeping new state attack on women's rights to abortion, infuriating reproductive justice advocates who have rallied at the capitol, pressured their representatives, and organized their communities for months demanding reproductive rights not be eroded.
The anti-choice measure Senate Bill 353—tacked onto a motorcycle safety bill—imposes severe restrictions on abortion facilities that will shutter all but one of the state's already meager 16 clinics, rob public employees of reproductive health coverage, and prohibit families from buying into certain federal plans that cover abortion.
McCrory signed the bill despite a campaign promise in 2012 that he would not endorse any further curbs to abortion rights.
“North Carolinians – across party lines — are appalled that Governor McCrory would break his campaign promise and put women’s health at risk by signing this legislation into law," declared Melissa Reed, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Health Systems. "North Carolinians must keep making our voices heard and tell the Governor that we will not stand for legislation that will hurt women and could dramatically restrict access to safe, legal abortion."
The measure was pushed forward and sent to McCrory's desk by North Carolina's Republican-dominated legislature, which has driven through a series of laws that have eroded workers' rights, cut protections to African-American voters, and gutted public services—including education and unemployment benefits—since taking a super-majority two years ago.
The North Carolina anti-choice law marks the latest offensive in a nation-wide rightwing effort to slash reproductive health care access and abortion rights at the state level. A similar attack in Texas was passed in early July, and the Guttmacher Institute reports that 22 states have curbed abortion rights in the last year.
Yet, these cuts have been met with passionate nation-wide protest and mobilization, which has not spared North Carolina. Reproductive justice advocates have rallied weekly with the Moral Monday protests and staged protests and vigils at the capitol. On Monday, a petition with 35,000 signatures was delivered to McCrory demanding he veto the anti-abortion legislation.
Planned Parenthood is organizing day-long vigils Monday and Tuesday after McCrory signed the bill despite mass opposition.
“[Governor McCrory] needs to understand we will remain vigilant in holding him to his campaign promise," declared Paige Johnson, Vice President of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Central North Carolina. "...we will do everything in our power to let the women of North Carolina know they cannot trust McCrory to stand up to lawmakers intent on denying women’s access to safe and legal healthcare."