One of the most important times of any week is late on a Friday afternoon. That’s often when politicians – those who want to make a controversial move but hope no one notices – quietly take their most provocative steps.
Take the latest developments in North Carolina, for example. WRAL published this report at 7:45 p.m. (ET) on Friday evening.
Gov. Pat McCrory says he has signed legislation that makes North Carolina one of several states with 72-hour waiting periods for an abortion.McCrory’s office sent an email Friday evening which announced that he had signed pardons for two brothers wrongfully imprisoned for three decades in the killing of an 11-year-old girl. At the bottom of the email, it was noted that McCrory had also signed nine bills, listing each bill by their number without referring to their specific title.
Just so we’re clear, North Carolina’s Republican governor signed a new law requiring women in the state to wait 72 hours before they exercise their right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, which is a problem for reasons we’ll get to in a minute.
But McCrory did so late on a Friday, without a bill-signing ceremony, and announced his actions by tacking on a vague reference to his actions to the bottom of an email, as if to say, “By the way, no need to make a fuss, but I just imposed new abortion restrictions statewide. Nothing to see here. Move along.”
And if it seems as if the GOP governor might be a little ashamed of himself, signing a bill in the quietest way possible, there’s a very good reason for that.
Just two weeks before Election Day 2012, then-candidate McCrory was asked at a televised event, “If you are elected governor, what further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign?” He replied, simply, “None.”
That’s literally the entire quote. I didn’t truncate this for space – he was asked a straightforward question and the Republican offered a one-word answer. There were no caveats or addendums, and McCrory left himself no wiggle room. He made a vow and it was reasonable to expect him to keep his word.
That did not, however, last long. Less than a year later, the GOP governor signed a controversial bill that limited access to abortions in North Carolina. Two years later, McCrory has done it again.
For his part, the North Carolina leader insists, technically, he wasn’t lying in 2012. As McCrory sees it, this new state law doesn’t count as a “restriction” because women will still be able to get an abortion; they’ll just have to wait 72 hours.
It’s a creative defense, to be sure, but it’s also wildly unpersuasive. Imagine a woman goes to a clinic on a Monday to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, and the clinic’s staff says they’re ready to perform the procedure. The staff would send that woman away anyway, telling her that she’ll have to come back Thursday, not for any medical reason, but because some Republican politicians want her to think about her choice for a few days.
That, by any fair measure, is an abortion restriction. It’s what McCrory vowed not to do, but it’s what he’s done anyway.
And if the governor was confident that his decision had merit and the public would see the law’s value, he probably wouldn’t have been quite so eager to hide his actions.
What’s more, as Rachel noted on the show the other day, the same new law also “forces abortion providers to hand over to the state government detailed records of the abortions that they do, including literally your ultrasounds…. Your doctor has to hand over those records because what, there is somebody in North Carolina state government reading these medical scans for some governmental purpose? But they go in the file.”
McCrory’s promise must have come with some fine print that voters weren’t aware of.