Editorial: Fireworks over abortion

  • Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2013 12:30 a.m.

Gov. Pat McCrory certainly appeared to be enjoying himself at the Faith Fourth of July parade, waving to the crowd from a convertible and then mingling with the festive throngs attending the event.

He probably appreciated the chance to relax and get away from Raleigh, especially considering the political fireworks the state Senate had ignited on Wednesday, when it approved new restrictions on abortion clinics that could force many of them to shut down. The Senate rolled the bill out in a rush and gave it initial approval the same night, sparking protests from hundreds of abortion rights supporters who descended on the Capitol.

Yet it wasn’t just defenders of abortion who objected to the way this measure transpired. So did the governor.

“Regardless of what party is in charge or what important issue is being discussed, the process must be appropriate and thorough,” McCrory said.

He’s right, and the need for due deliberation and respect for procedure is never greater than when addressing an issue as divisive as abortion.

It comes as no surprise that the majority-Republican legislature would like to greatly restrict, or perhaps even eliminate, access to legal abortions, just as legislatures in other GOP-led states are trying to do. McCrory is well aware of that. But he’s also acutely aware of the decisive stance he presented as a gubernatorial candidate when directly asked which further restrictions on abortion he would sign if elected governor. His answer: “None.”

The measure would require that abortion clinics conform to rules similar to those for ambulatory surgery center. Proponents spoke of the need to protect women from unsafe clinics. Yet they cited only one specific instance in North Carolina where a Charlotte abortion clinic was temporarily shut down because it improperly administered a drug, and it was subsequently allowed to reopen. If the health risk is so great, then certainly that deserves a much more thorough public airing, with expert witnesses. If that risk isn’t there, then this is simply a thinly disguised attempt to shut down clinics because legislators oppose abortion — which remains legal under federal law. Shutting down existing clinics won’t protect women. It will just reduce their access to clinics and force them to turn elsewhere.

As a candidate who projected a moderate image, McCrory clearly expressed his opposition to imposing further restrictions on abortion. If this ill-conceived legislation, which now goes to the House, eventually lands on his desk, he’ll have an opportunity to make good on his word — or render it meaningless.

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