Abortion is a hopeless issue in some ways for those who support protecting a woman’s right to choose and her right to control her own medical care. Those who back freedom of choice are inevitably labeled pro-abortion, which they are not. It would be difficult to find anyone who is pro-abortion just as it would be difficult, nay, impossible to find anyone who is not literally pro life.
The issue should not be so easily summarized in a political debate. In fact, it should not even be the subject of a political debate. Abortion is a moral issue, a personal issue and in any contexts a profoundly complicated issue. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision affirmed the right to abortion, but states have added or tried to add various complications to that right ever since.
Now in North Carolina comes a bill that is gratuitously condescending and insulting to women. It triples the required waiting period to have an abortion from one day to three, increases inspection requirements for clinics and dictates the types of doctors who can perform abortions. This comes after a 2013 bill that added regulations for clinics and limited the insurance coverage for abortions that would be available to government employees.
This is all about the anti-abortion rights advocates trying to basically outlaw abortion, which is what many of them would like to do.
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But it also amounts to a group of lawmakers, mostly older men, telling all women what they can and cannot do about their health. It puts those lawmakers right in the examining room, where they do not belong. And it uses the power of the legislature to interfere in people’s personal lives, a curious abuse indeed for a group of Republicans who supposedly are for small government.
Compounding the narrowmindedness of this action is a sneaky, purely political maneuver unrelated to the abortion issue at all. Republicans in the Senate added in legislation toughening laws on sex crimes, which Democrats rightly characterized as something of a trap: If they rightly voted against the bill because of the abortion restrictions, they would be condemned for failing to get tough on sex crimes.
But the person who should be most embarrassed is Gov. Pat McCrory, who promised in his 2012 campaign that he would not support “further restrictions on abortion” but is signing the abortion bill. In 2013, he signed the bill that added those regulations for clinics and limited insurance coverage. The governor, who of late has demonstrated a little common sense in vetoing bad bills pushed by Republicans, just caved in on this one, probably fearing political blowback. But it’s called political cowardice.
Democratic Rep. Rick Glazier of Fayetteville said proponents’ belief that a longer waiting period will reduce the number of abortions is simply wrong. “Hardly,” he said. “They’ll occur elsewhere, in the back alleys and dark rooms.” In other words, a bill advocates claimed was all about women’s health might in fact cause some to risk their health.
It’s unconscionable that Republicans, in a time North Carolina is struggling with a need for jobs, for improvements in an understaffed court system, for more pay for teachers so the public education system isn’t hit with a crippling shortage, instead focus on an ideological issue designed to stir up the most extreme part of the party’s base. No matter that it is absolutely an infringement on the doctor-patient relationship.
This is all about raising an emotional issue to turn out the GOP base in the next election. But there is a risk here that Republicans always seem to miss. Women are split on this issue, and in fact many regard government involvement in the abortion issue as an invasion of privacy. Though Republicans may think a longer waiting period will appeal to moderate and conservative women voters, but those women may see it as doubting their ability to decide