By CNN’s Bryan Koenig
(CNN) — Joining other Republican-controlled states like Texas and Ohio in legislative efforts to restrict abortion, the North Carolina state Senate Tuesday amended a bill originally focused on preventing foreign laws from playing any role in state legal proceedings to include a number of restrictions on abortion.
Amended and tentatively passed by the state Senate in one day in a 27-14 vote without any support from state Democrats, the bill would limit insurance coverage for abortions, require doctors to be present for the entire procedure, make gender-selective abortions illegal and require abortion clinics to meet the same licensing standards as surgical centers. It’s due for final approval by the state Senate Wednesday.
The licensing requirement in particular has become a popular tactic among anti-abortion advocates, which they argue ensures the safety of the procedure. Opponents argue it is an onerous requirement aimed solely at forcing abortion clinics to close.
Planned Parenthood’s North Carolina branch is calling the amended bill a “sneak attack” on abortion rights and has vowed to fight the legislation, with supporters rallying in the state general assembly Wednesday morning.
The bill was first introduced in early April and was aimed solely at keeping foreign laws, which would include Islamic Sharia law, out of state legal proceedings such as divorce and child custody.
NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina said in a statement that the abortion amendment was passed without warning or public notice, arguing that it was meant to fly in under the radar. “In the final minutes of marking up an unrelated piece of legislation, the Senate Judiciary committee swiftly tacked on every anti-choice piece of legislation introduced since January,” said Executive Director Suzanne Buckley.
Opponents of the North Carolina bill have expressed an awareness of larger fights over abortion, with references in particular to the filibuster and temporary disruption of a Texas abortion bill last week. In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, the Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund cautions North Carolina protesters: “FYI: As opposed to Texas, anyone who is disruptive in the Senate gallery will be arrested.”
Some protesters have even said they’re “wearing their Wendy Davis shoes,” in reference to the Texas state senator who staged a 13-hour filibuster last week that was buoyed by disruptive protesters who crowded into the state capitol.
As the debate rages in North Carolina and Texas, Ohio has already managed to pass controversial abortion restrictions in its state budget. Signed into law Sunday by Republican Gov. John Kasich, the budget requires ultrasounds for anyone seeking an abortion and limits the ability of abortion patients to transfer to public hospitals.
A CNN affiliate in North Carolina, WNCN, contacted a spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory Tuesday night, she had no comment. McCrory said in his campaign last fall that he wasn’t interested in pursuing further abortion restrictions.
The bill was shepherded by Sen. Warren Daniel, who referred to the “house of horrors” of the Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of murdering live babies in defending the legislation. “This bill is about safety,” the Republican said during the floor debate, according to WNCN. “If we require regulations that are burdensome on orthopedic (offices) and they can compete in the marketplace, than … abortion providers can, too.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, applauded the legislation, specifically referencing the Philadelphia case. “Numberous states have rightfully taken steps to increase the health and safety standards of their own abortion facilities in an effort to protect women,” she said in a statement. “North Carolina legislators, like those in Texas and elsewhere across the country, are acting on the will of the pro-life grassroots in advancing this much-needed, common ground legislation.”
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