Raleigh — Hours after Gov. Pat McCrory issued a veto threat for a controversial abortion bill, House Republicans -- acting without public notice -- took a bill about motorcycle safety and inserted abortion language.
The new bill -- S353 -- represents tweaks to the version that passed the Senate last week but still includes some of that version's contentious language. It calls for a physician to be present when the first drug in a chemical abortion is administered, as opposed to all drugs, as the version that passed the Senate last week would mandate.
Another major change from the Senate version: Abortion clinics would not be required to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. But the state Department of Health and Human Services would be authorized to apply those standards as it sees "applicable." The bill also includes a state study to determine what resources are necessary for the state health agency to adequately enforce the new regulations, and would pay for more inspectors.
Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, an Apex Republican leading the effort, said the new measure mollifies the governor's concerns. McCrory's lobbyist appeared to work with the bill's chief supporters before the meeting, but it's still unclear how McCrory would act on the amended bill.
"We want to make sure these procedures are not designed to close down clinics," said Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican helping to lead the effort.
House Democratic Rep. Rick Glazier objected to the short notice, saying he would vote against the bill. "The process here is just dead wrong," added Rep. Joe Sam Queen, a Democrat.
The House's move echoes how the abortion bill surfaced in the Senate. The Senate action drew a rebuke from McCrory for not being transparent.
The Sharia law language from the Senate bill is not included in this latest House measure, but the motorcycle safety provisions are still in the bill.
Check back for more updates as this story develops.
--Annalise Frank and John Frank, staff writers