Moves on elections and abortion tarnished legislature's ending

July 26, 2013 

Leaders of North Carolina’s Republican majority in the General Assembly made mud pies for six months and now want the people to believe they’re ice cream sundaes. It’s not going to work. The just-passed session of the legislature was a monument to ineptitude, small-mindedness, extreme ideology, and the politics of vindictiveness and anger.

In the closing days, Republicans passed two particularly offensive laws.

One will inhibit the exercise of democracy, that’s all.

The elections law so-called reform requires a government photo ID to vote, prohibits straight-ticket voting and lets any registered voter challenge the eligibility of a voter. In other words, it will make it harder for minorities, the elderly and college students, who are more likely to lack a conventional ID, to vote, and it will give muscle to those who want to make trouble at polling places by challenging the rights of others.

The kicker in all this, of course, is that Republicans made great noise about protecting the “integrity” of the voting process, when in fact there has been virtually no voter fraud in North Carolina. These Republicans hurt the integrity of the process, if anything, by seeking to in effect intimidate potential voters whom they believe lean Democratic.

But they weren’t done. They also said counties can’t extend poll hours on Election Day to respond to long lines, and repealed a law that requires candidates to endorse ads run by their campaigns. Reform? Retreat is more like it.

Naturally, Republicans intoxicated with power were happy to let their tea party allies keep pouring, so the GOP leaders also passed a disingenuous law that will restrict access to abortion rights for women in North Carolina by claiming to protect their health. No group is really pro-abortion, but advocates of abortion rights do believe that women who choose to end a pregnancy should have reasonable access to the procedure.

And Gov. Pat McCrory promised in his campaign that he would not support further restrictions on abortion. But he’s not vetoing this bill. He's opting to break his promise instead. His rationalization is that the law doesn’t further restrict access. But it does.

Republican legislators passed a law that will curb access to abortion care for public workers by limiting their health plans, and also by not allowing the federal online insurance marketplace to offer abortion coverage. Republicans also have tightened standards for abortion clinics in a transparent attempt to make it harder and more expensive for the clinics to provide care.

These changes most affect, of course, a constituency that generally doesn't support Republican candidates, the poor. Wealthy and middle-class people have always had access to abortion services, but absent lower-cost clinics and insurance, the poor will not.

Both the election law changes and the abortion law likely will prompt long-term lawsuits, and they should.

So Republicans, those strong advocates of tight-fisted government and small government that doesn’t interfere in people’s lives, will have to pay for the state’s defense of their ideologically-driven stumbles through the halls of power.

What were they thinking? They were not.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service