The North Carolina House passed a controversial bill Thursday, 74-41. The bill accomplishes two otherwise unrelated goals: it restricts access to abortion, and increases safety for motorcyclists.
The bill would place new requirements on women's health clinics that could make it difficult for many of them to stay open, and would allow the state's health department to create temporary rules for North Carolina's abortion clinics as it sees fit. The bill also prohibits government-administered insurance plans (including the Affordable Care Act) to pay for abortions and would require a doctor to be present when a patient is administered abortion-inducing drugs.
During Thursday's three-hour debate over the motorcycle bill, House Speaker Thom Tillis reminded legislators to stay on topic as members on both sides of the aisle spoke passionately about women's health and rights.
Democratic State Rep. Beverly Earle rose to debate the bill by introducing herself as a motorcyclist, adding, "I want to let my motorcycle buddies know when I vote against this, it's not because I don't care about their safety."
On the right, representatives argued that the bill was being misrepresented as an attack on women's rights. "There is no war on women," State Rep. Sarah Stevens said.
Opponents of the bill expressed their outrage about the maneuver with memes and the hashtag #motorcyclevagina.
House Republicans had inserted the abortion language into the bill Wednesday with no public notice, despite veto threats from Gov. Pat McCrory. The bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote.