Following up on our coverage from last night, developments in North Carolina unfolded quickly and by surprise as state Republican lawmakers launched a new effort to restrict reproductive rights in the state. They did so under highly unusual circumstances.
The state Senate was poised to consider a foolish measure, predicated on a common far-right conspiracy theory, intended to undermine Sharia law in North Carolina courts. Late in the afternoon, however, Republican state senators launched a legislative ambush, quickly amending the Sharia law bill to include sweeping new anti-abortion measures, intended to close clinics and prevent Planned Parenthood from providing legal abortion services in the state.
"They're doing it quietly on Fourth of July weekend because they've seen what's going on in Texas and know that women will turn out," Melissa Reed, vice president of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems said, referring to the protests surrounding a similar bill in Texas. She said Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights advocates had no idea the measure would be taken up Tuesday.
NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina executive director Suzanne Buckley added, "It seems to me that they're trying to pass under cover of darkness legislation that would not otherwise be passed. They're trying to pull a Texas."
If GOP officials in the state were proud of their work, and were confident they were doing the right and popular thing, they wouldn't have to conduct their business this way.
And let's also not brush past the ideological irony too quickly. Republican state senators are so terrified by the prospect of religious law being considered in North Carolina that they're pushing a legislative fix -- which just so happens to include a provision shaped by Republican state senators' religious beliefs.
Nevertheless, GOP state senators voted to advance their legislative ambush and will reconvene today for a final floor vote. WRAL in Raleigh has created a live feed of the proceedings, which I've posted above. If approved, the bill will go the state House, which also has a Republican majority.