Last night, Republicans in North Carolina's state Senate quickly moved to amend a Sharia law proposal with sweeping new limits on reproductive rights in the state, and this morning, they used their majority to pass the bill.
Senators voted 29-12 to approve House Bill 695, which now returns to the House for a final vote on the changes.Shouts of "shame, shame, shame" rained down on the Senate after the vote. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who oversees the Senate, ordered police to clear people from the gallery before senators adjourned.
The legislative gallery was standing-room only, filled with proponents of reproductive rights, with several hundred more activists rallying outside the building. The GOP majority didn't seem to care.
The proposal now heads to the state House, where Republicans are also in the majority, and where the bill's prospects are generally considered quite good. Whether North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) would sign the bill, however, is less clear -- as a candidate, McCrory vowed to leave the state's existing abortion laws alone.
Then again, McCrory said a lot of things as a candidate and whether he would keep this promise is unclear.
One thing the governor won't be able to say is that the legislation leaves the status quo in place. If approved, H.B. 695 would, among other things, close all but one of North Carolina's 36 abortion clinics under new licensing standards.
"This is an atrocious, shameful bill," Sen. Earline Parmon (D) told the Charlotte Observer. "It's about dictating to women about very personal medical decisions that should be left to a woman and her doctor. This is going to cause more back-alley abortions whether you want to admit it or not."