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McCrory stays mum on how he’d handle NC abortion bill

FAITH Gov. Pat McCrory doled out handshakes and hailed parade-goers as he rode in this Rowan County town’s Fourth of July parade Thursday, but he wouldn’t say what he’d do about a controversial abortion bill if it reaches his desk.

That question has been on many minds in North Carolina this week, after the N.C. Senate Wednesday approved sweeping new rules that could limit abortions.

The bill now goes to the N.C. House.

The legislation would require N.C. abortion clinics to meet tougher standards similar to those governing outpatient surgery clinics. As a result, critics say, it would effectively close the majority of the state’s 16 abortion clinics. It would also require doctors to be present when women take pills to induce abortions.

Supporters of the legislation say those rules are necessary to keep women safe. Opponents say they’re simply an attempt to restrict abortions.

The bill came as a surprise to most people Tuesday evening when it emerged for a preliminary vote in the Senate without public notice. By Wednesday morning, hundreds of protesters had converged on the legislature.

In a statement on Wednesday, McCrory criticized the lack of public notice.

“When the Democrats were in power, this is the way they did business,” he 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.”

But his statement didn’t offer an opinion about the bill itself or say what he’d do if it reaches his desk. He would have three options: Veto it, sign it or let it become law without signing it.

During his campaign last year, McCrory pledged that he wouldn’t sign any further restrictions on abortion.

As McCrory prepared Thursday morning to ride in Faith’s annual parade, the Observer asked him if he would allow the bill to become law if the House approved it. He didn’t answer the question. Instead, he said his statement on Wednesday speaks for itself.

“No legislation should be done that way,” he said.

Asked whether he believes the proposed legislation is about safety or about restricting abortions, McCrory said he hadn’t seen the bill. He plans to let the legislative process continue, he said.

“I’ve got people on the political left and on the political right and in the media more interested in making statements than finding solutions,” he said. “On this Fourth of July,” he said, he was focusing on “viable solutions.”

During the same event, McCrory told News 14 Carolina that he had called legislative leaders to complain about how they handled the bill; he also told the TV station that he looked forward to reading the legislation, “and I’ll express the areas where I disagree and the areas where I agree.”

As he climbed onto the back of an N.C. State Highway Patrol convertible, McCrory did offer an opinion on the parade he was about join, an annual event in the little town of Faith, population 800, for nearly 70 years.

“This is one of the greatest parades in the country,” he said, smiling. “I cannot believe the crowd. This is Americana at its best.”

Pam Kelley: 704 358-5271
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