North Carolina joins push for abortion restrictions, McCrory balks


North Carolina lawmakers are moving to tighten abortion restrictions. (AP  Photo/The News & Observer, Takaaki Iwabu)

North Carolina on Wednesday became the latest GOP-controlled state legislature to move toward restricting abortion rights after legislation unexpectedly and quickly passed through the state Senate.

The chamber voted 29-12 in favor of the legislation Wednesday -- one day after it was added to an unrelated measure -- as protesters reportedly shouted "shame" at GOP lawmakers. The abortion measures would require abortion providers to meet particular licensing standards that the vast majority of the state's providers don't currently meet.

Republicans have big majorities in the North Carolina House and Senate, along with a GOP governor -- Pat McCrory. But McCrory hasn't indicated whether he would sign the bill, and on Wednesday he criticized the legislative maneuvering used to pass it.

"When the Democrats were in power, this is the way they did business," McCrory said. "It was not right then and it is not right now. Regardless of what party is in charge or what important issue is being discussed, the process must be appropriate and thorough."

McCrory said during his 2012 campaign that he would not sign any further restrictions on abortion into law. The bill, technically, could become law without his signature; he could simply decline to sign it.

His office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about whether he would veto the legislation. Even if McCrory did veto it, though, Republicans -- who have veto-proof majorities in both chambers -- could potentially override the veto.

Abortion-rights supporters have begun to mobilize, as the state becomes the latest front in the abortion battle. Several states this year have moved to shrink the window during which women can obtain abortions and to create new requirements for abortion providers.

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) lent her voice to opponents of these measures last week when she successfully filibustered a bill restricting abortion -- forcing Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to call a second special session to pass the legislation.

And on Sunday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a budget into law that includes a requirement that abortion providers tell women if a fetus has a heartbeat and effectively cuts funding for Planned Parenthood.

In North Carolina, state senators attached the new abortion restrictions to a bill that would ban the state's courts from considering foreign laws. Several states have passed such legislation.

The measure would require abortion providers to enter into "transfer agreements" with hospitals, which are sometimes reticent to do so for political reasons. Ohio's budget included a similar measure.

Updated at 12:54 p.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | July 3, 2013