While Democrats across America hold the same basic values they vary in their intensity of commitment to certain planks of the platform from area to area. In North Carolina Democrats are less vocal in their support of a woman’s right to chose. Many Democrats feel torn between their religious and political beliefs so they focus on the other planks of the platform that they are less conflicted about. So when on June 27th Democratic Governor Bev Perdue vetoed an anti-abortion bill she displayed particular political courage to do the right thing even though it might cost her intensity of support from her own base.
Earlier this week the North Carolina House of Representatives overrode the veto. Thursday the vote to override came up in the State Senate. A 60% vote of those present is required to override a veto. There are fifty State Senators elected in North Carolina. Republican State Senator Richard Stevens had an excused absence, (interestingly as he did for the original vote), lowering the number to 49. In the original vote Republican State Senator Stan Bingham had voted against the legislation. Leading up to the veto override vote he had stated that he would either vote to sustain the veto or walk out of the building. When the session was called to order Senator Bingham was in his seat. There was a hasty adjournment to accommodate a Republican caucus. When the Senate came back to order after the caucus Senator Bingham was no longer at his seat. The vote to override was 29-19 or 60.4% – veto overturned. Had Bingham voted nay the vote would have been 29-20 or 59.2% – veto sustained.
By cowardly choosing his own political future over the rights of the women of North Carolina and running away Bingham exposes the women of childbearing age and capabilities of North Carolina to state sponsored harassment if they chose to terminate a pregnancy. Bingham is 65 and therefore eligible to retire, but he put his political future and possibly a more comfortable retirement ahead of an opportunity to let the women of North Carolina exercise their legal right to an abortion without harassment.
On the day of the vote the Raleigh News and Observer ran an article, one complete paragraph of which is below:
“The bill would require that a doctor not perform an abortion until a 24-hour waiting period ends and the woman receives the opportunity to see an ultrasound and have a description of what’s on the screen.”
I take exception to the use of the word “opportunity”. It is misleading. Opportunity implies option. There is no option here. The ultrasound and description are required. This legislation was labeled the “Women’s Right to Know Act”; it might more appropriately be called the “Physicians Be Told What to Tell to Women Who are Forced to Listen Act. I guess if a woman can turn her head and quickly insert earplugs the option is hers. The physician still has the legal requirement to perform the medically unnecessary procedure and recite the state written script. This legislation has no exception for cases of rape or incest. Therefore under this law the State of North Carolina is granting more rights to the rapist or molester than it is to the victim. Theoretically a rapist or molester could force his victim to live up to the letter of the law when attempting to abort the fetus that resulted from their union. Yes, starting in October of 2011, rapists and molesters have more standing in the courts of North Carolina than their victims do.
Republicans love to preach fiscal conservatism. What is conservative about driving up the costs of an abortion by requiring medically unnecessary procedures? This has to be paid for by someone at some point. It also is a poor allocation of medical resources. Could the highly trained medical personnel have been attending to someone in need when they are wasting their time placating the fringe of a certain political Party?
Instead of being on a crusade to placate a few, perhaps Republicans in state capitals across the nation would better serve their constituents by doing something about jobs. As of the latest numbers the unemployment rate in North Carolina was 9.9%. Now doing something to reduce that would be a noble cause. The only industry I can see this law helping is a coat hanger manufacturer.
While the petite Bev Perdue had the courage to stand tall and be the thin Carolina blue line between right and wrong, Stan Bingham invented a new hue – Carolina yellow.
NOTE: For more on this issue and all North Carolina politics see ncpolicywatch.com. The outstanding reporting of Rob Schofield and Chris Fitzsimon contributed to my knowledge on this issue and I advise anyone interested in North Carolina politics to visit their site.
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