RALEIGH — While Planned Parenthood supporters held a 12-hour vigil across the street from the Executive Mansion, Gov. Pat McCrory signed the very bill they were rallying against.
McCrorys office issued a statement Monday evening saying the governor had signed a number of high-profile bills, including the abortion bill, a gun-rights bill and a scholarship grant for children with disabilities to attend private schools.
In a statement, McCrory said those who oppose the abortion bill are putting politics before womens health.
This law does not further limit access, and those who contend it does are more interested in politics than the health and safety of our citizens, the statement said.
Abortion-rights protestors outside McCrorys residence gathered to denounce a bill they say will restrict access to safe and legal abortions. They earlier had called for McCrory to veto the measure noting the campaign promise he made last year not to sign any legislation that would further restrict access to abortions.
When those gathered outside the mansion heard that the governor signed the bill into law, it got quiet for a minute or two while everyone absorbed the news, said Michelle Roberts, who lives in Raleigh.
But then everyone got motivated again, she said. They recommenced their shouting and sign-swinging.
He has signed the most restrictive access to safe and legal abortions this state has ever seen, said Melissa Reed, the vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood. We will make sure women know Gov. McCrory cant be trusted.
The group planned to circle the block with motorcycles Monday night, a nod to the fact that the abortion language was inserted into a bill about motorcycle safety in the final days of the just-ended legislative session.
Theyll continue with another 12-hour vigil on Tuesday. Reed said the protests would have a renewed focus on getting people registered to vote.
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 its 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 Houses version of the bill changed McCrorys 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, Sarah Preston, policy director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a emailed statement.
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, had earlier Monday called on McCrory to sign the bill. The coalition did not respond to further requests for comment.
The handful of Immoral Monday protesters who are gathered at the Governors Mansion today do not represent the majority of North Carolinians, Fitzgerald said in a statement. ... Gov. McCrorys promise to sign SB 353 was a great advance for unborn children and women in North Carolina. ... We appreciate the governors promise to sign the bill and urge him to sign it as soon as possible.
The abortion bill was one of 18 pieces of legislation McCrory signed Monday. He is expected to sign about 40 bills in the next 30 days. He has already said he will sign far-reaching changes to the states election law that will give North Carolina some of the strictest voter identification rules in the country.
Those bills he does not sign will become law without his signature unless he vetoes them. On Friday, he expressed concerns over a bill that removed restrictions on billboards and landfills and another that required drug testing of some welfare recipients.