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North Carolina Senate passes new restrictions on abortion

People gather outside the North Carolina state legislature as Senate Republicans gave their final approval to legislation requiring additional rules surrounding abortions in the state, even as hundreds of protesters against the bill watched from the gallery in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday. (Gerry Broome/AP)

North Carolina on Wednesday became the latest state in which a Republican-controlled legislature moved toward more restrictive abortion measures.

The state Senate voted 29 to 12 in favor of legislation requiring abortion providers to meet strict licensing standards that the vast majority of the state’s health-care providers don’t currently meet. The vote came one day after the language was added to an unrelated measure.

Republicans have big majorities in the North Carolina Senate and in the House, which has not voted on the bill. Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has not indicated whether he would sign the measure.

The governor criticized the legislative maneuvering involved in passing the measure. “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 could become law without his signature if he simply declines to sign it, rather than veto it.

McCrory’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether he would veto the legislation. Republicans have enough votes in both chambers to override a veto.

Also Wednesday, there were reports that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is considering becoming a lead sponsor of legislation that would ban abortions 20 weeks after fertilization.

“The pro-life groups have asked him to introduce the bill in the Senate,” a Rubio adviser wrote in an e-mail, asking not to be identified because the issue was still under discussion. “He had not made a final decision before leaving on a family vacation this week. I expect an announcement when he gets back to D.C. next week.”

Opponents of the tougher abortion laws are mobilizing in North Carolina and elsewhere against what they see as a GOP assault on abortion rights. Several states this year have moved to shrink the window during which women can obtain abortions and to create new requirements for abortion providers.

In Texas, state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) shot to national prominence last week when she successfully filibustered a bill restricting abortion, forcing Gov. Rick Perry (R) to call a second special session of the legislature to address the measure.

Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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