State Rep. Garland Pierce said he voted against a bill because politics got in the way of keeping women safe.
In a newsletter to his constituents about recently passed bills, Pierce said the bill, SB 353, got a lot of attention because it “places significant new restrictions on women’s health care providers.”
The bill passed both the House and the Senate and has been signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.
“Abortion is a difficult issue and there are a lot of sincere and emotional beliefs on each side of the issue,” Pierce said. “I voted against this bill because I believe it was an effort to make it harder for health care professionals to provide women access to a constitutionally protected medical procedure.”
According to Policy Mic’s Ryane Ridenour, “Critics of the bill say that the bill has nothing to do with women’s safety and everything to do with controlling women’s bodily autonomy. Even if we ignored the fact that the model legislation for this bill, the Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act, was drafted by the organization Americans United For Life, it’s easy to see that the additional requirements have little to nothing to do with abortion procedures or ‘keeping women safe.’”
Pierce wrote that, “Proponents of the bill contended it was about increasing safety. Their argument was undermined by their process. They gutted unrelated bills and presented these bills to committee with no public notice. If they were truly interested in protecting women’s safety they, rather than engaging in political games, would have slowed down and spent time giving serious thought and study as to how to best protect women. The bad process behind the bill made it clear that this was about politics, and not a serious attempt to increase safety.”
Pierce made reference to the other paperwork the Women’s Health Bill was attached to which may seem unrelated, such as the Motorcycle Safety Act and an anti-Sharia bill. Additionally, women’s health advocates are pointing out that the bill, signed by McCrory, goes against his original campaign promises.
The abortion legislation, Senate Bill 353, requires clinics that perform the procedure to meet standards similar to surgical centers. It also says health care providers can opt out of performing an abortion if it’s against their beliefs. And it would stop government insurance plans from paying for the procedure.
McCrory had threatened to veto a more stringent version of the bill passed by the Senate, citing his campaign promise. But softened language in the House’s version of the bill changed McCrory’s mind.
“It is incredibly disappointing that Gov. McCrory has broken his campaign promise and signed an extreme law that will severely restrict abortion access and comprehensive health care for countless North Carolina women,” said Sarah Preston, policy director of the ACLU of North Carolina, to the News & Observer.
“This bill will allow Gov. McCrory or any future administration to impose new restrictions on women’s health care clinics,” said Pierce. “Many of the regulations are unrelated to medical care and can go as far as regulating the size of the doorways and the number of parking spots available. As originally written, this bill would close all but one clinic in North Carolina. I do not support limiting access to women’s health care.”
Currently, there are 16 abortion clinics across North Carolina.