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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

N.C. Senate passes omnibus abortion bill, hundreds protest

Posted by on Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM

The North Carolina Senate doesn’t have a Wendy Davis.

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What it did have Wednesday morning was a gallery full of 500 people wearing pink, watching quietly as Senators rammed through an omnibus abortion bill, which may lead to the closure of abortion clinics across the state.

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Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, who, along with his fellow Democratic Senators, is outnumbered 33-17 by Republicans, told Republicans that they are inviting a firestorm of protest by forcing the legislation through. If it were allowed to filibuster in the N.C. Senate, he probably would have.

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The legislation would force abortion providers to have “transfer agreements” with a hospital in order to operate. Other news outlets have reported only one abortion provider in North Carolina has such an agreement.

It would also require them to be licensed the same as ambulatory surgical centers and would require a doctor to be present for the entirety of the abortion process. It's unclear how this would effect "medical" abortions, which consists of taking prescription drugs that work over a period of days.

The net effect of such measures, at best, forces abortion providers to jump through an significant amount of regulatory hoops. At worst, it will lead some to shut down.

The bill now heads to the House for approval.

Even Gov. Pat McCrory, who has been awkwardly stuck between the slightly more moderate House and the extremely conservative Senate, is criticizing the Senate’s move.

"When the Democrats were in power, this is the way they did business," a press release quoted him as saying. "It was not right then and it is not right now. Regardless of what party is in charge or what important issue is being discussed, the process must be appropriate and thorough."

McCrory did not make any indication of whether or not he would veto the legislation.

Each time I’ve covered recent General Assembly protests, I meet people who say they were on the fence about coming out to protest. Today was no different. The first five women I interviewed told me they don’t normally do this kind of thing.

"I almost came last Monday," said Oami Powers, "but I own my own business and I just got really busy. Then last night when they rammed this through I just got so angry. I decided to make time. I moved here three years ago and I love it here. My biggest feeling right now is disappointment.'

Once the 29-12 vote took place, one woman was arrested and shouts of "shame on you" came from the gallery, before it was cleared by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

Some protesters stayed outside throughout the protest and remain outside the legislative building. Another protest, “Witness Wednesday,” will take place after a 2 p.m. press conference inside the legislative building.

Some protesters are apparently working on a bat signal, which beams a pink tennis shoe into the sky, in hopes of getting Davis' attention.

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With no one there to filibuster it into oblivion, the N.C. Senate passed an omnibus abortion bill Wednesday morning, amid a large protest.

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