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McCrory breaks his promise on abortion

On Friday, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory reneged on his promise not to allow further restrictions on abortions in the state. Yes, he did some fancy footwork, dancing around his broken promise, telling reporters that a “recent House version (of proposed legislation) allows the medical professionals at the Department of Health and Human Services to write the rules which will ensure women’s safety.” And he added that he would still veto a Senate version that opponents said would close virtually all abortion clinics in the state.

But McCrory isn’t fooling anyone but himself with this parsing. The House bill varies little from the Senate version other than making a couple of concessions.

The House bill still makes it harder and more costly for abortions to be performed, and makes access more difficult. It requires doctors to remain present for an entire surgical abortion. The physician also must be present when a woman takes the first dose for a chemically induced abortion.

It also blocks any money from the online health insurance marketplace set up under the federal Affordable Care Act from going to fund abortions, and says abortions may not be included in county or city employee health plans.

Gov. McCrory, these are clearly further restrictions on abortions – the kind of legislation you pledged on the campaign trail you would not sign – and they have little to do with ensuring a woman’s safety.

These changes were a ruse all along. Rep. Paul Stam, a longtime anti-abortion rights crusader, admitted as much in a recent television interview, saying one reason for the legislation was for lawmakers to limit access to abortions as much as they could. This attempt to circumvent the law on abortion with unnecessary provisions is shameful.

McCrory should have stood firm and vetoed it. But backed into a corner politically, trying to stay in the good favor of the extreme conservatives he has deferred to since taking office, he caved. Now, he says he will sign the House bill if it reaches his desk.

Too bad. This was a moment when McCrory could have redeemed himself and showed up as the moderate governor we thought we were getting when he was elected, the person we recognized from his years as Charlotte’s mayor.

Instead McCrory broke a promise. And by doing so, he showed us that though he may be governor in name, he’s clearly not in charge.

No ATVs on public roads

This should be a no-brainer. When an N.C. House bill comes up for a floor vote as expected Monday to allow citizens to drive all-terrain vehicles on public roads, lawmakers in rare bipartisan agreement should say no. The vote could save lives.

Safety advocates this week lambasted the idea that emerged Wednesday as members were considering a Senate bill on changes to the legal definition of ATVs. A House panel added new language authorizing some counties to allow ATV drivers over age 15 on roads where the speed limit is posted at 35 mph or lower.

That addition has rightly drawn criticism. As Tom Vitaglione of the nonprofit Action for Children advocacy group noted: “These vehicles are not intended to be on the road. In fact, they’re more dangerous on the road than off the road. We think this will raise crash rates and mortality rates for teens.”

Even sellers of ATVs chimed in against the idea. Said dealership owner Chris Brewer: “ATVs aren’t designed for the highway. They don’t have turn signals. A few have brake lights. They don’t have horns or mirrors.”

Allowing these vehicles on public roads is asking for trouble and tragedy. Lawmakers, just say no.

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