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NC Senate Slips Sweeping Abortion Restrictions into Bill Supposed to Ban Sharia Law

The latest example of shady politics from our antichoice legislators.
 
 
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In the latest example of "whatever-it-takes" antichoice politics, a North Carolina bill banning Sharia law now contains a number of pending abortion restrictions senators hope to quietly slip in and pass in one big, anti-Sharia and anti-woman sweep.

At RH Reality Check, Crow After Roe author Robin Marty explains the bill's shapeshifting:

HB 695, titled the “Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act,” was written to protect the state from the influences of “foreign law.” The bill was modified to include a ban on abortion coverage in insurance offered in the state health exchange, a ban on sex-selective abortions, changes to the Women’s Right to Know Act that would require a physician to be present during both surgical and medication abortions, additional protections for health-care providers who have “conscience” objections to assisting with abortion care, and a requirement that abortion clinics be held to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, requiring a transfer agreement with a local hospital, among oth aer things. In short, the Sharia law bill  combines a number of the  pending abortion restrictions proposed throughout the North Carolina legislative session into one massive omnibus bill.

According to WRAL, the Senate met and discussed several bills for much of Tuesday until 5:20 pm, when Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) announced a ten-minute recess:

Until then, the committee's calendar only listed House Bill 695, which prohibits the recognition of foreign law, such as Islamic Sharia law, in family courts. That measure  was controversial when it cleared the House in May, with opponents fearing it could interfere with recognition of U.S. law in foreign courts. 

However, when the committee convened at 5:30 p.m., it quickly took up an amendment to revise HB 695 to include the regulations on abortion.

WRAL says lobbyists tied to groups like the Family Policy Council and Christian Action League were told ahead of time that the Sharia law bill would also contain sweeping abortion restrictions, but the bill's opponents were in the dark. "This is a cowardly move intended to silence pro-choice voices because they know that if they show their extreme agenda in the light of day, they’ll hear from us,” Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, said in a statement. “Within minutes of introducing these amendments, they’ve land on the Senate floor for a vote—in so little time that North Carolina’s pro-choice majority won’t be able to weigh in with the very legislators who represent them.”

Update:  The gambit worked. The state senate passed the bill today despite even Republican State Governor Pat McCrory's concern that the senate had unfairly rushed the amendments.

Melissa Reed, vice president of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, told WRAL NC legislators are being tactical to avoid outrage from women affected. "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," Reed said.

 

 

Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne