Editorials

Remember that abortion promise?

The Observer editorial board

Fear not, women of North Carolina.

A bill that would create new obstacles to getting an abortion has moved to the N.C. Senate after passing the House this week. House Bill 465 would require women to wait three days, instead of 24 hours, before getting an abortion.

But the bill will not make it past the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.

That’s what the governor said.

You remember. During his campaign back in 2012, McCrory was asked during a debate what further restrictions on abortion he would sign. “None,” he replied, simply and unequivocally.

Yes, we know. The governor turned his back on that promise – within a year, in fact – when he signed into law legislation that made it harder and more costly for abortions to be performed.

We didn’t agree then with that decision – or his rationale that he wanted to “ensure women’s safety.” But at least the governor could attempt to explain away that non-veto. This latest abortion bill, written by Mecklenburg Republican Jacqueline Schaffer, doesn’t offer him that opportunity for spin.

Tripling the abortion waiting period serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional and financial hardships for women. It also presupposes that women are unable to make up their own minds without further government intervention.

That not just what we believe. Those are the words another governor, Missouri’s Jay Nixon, wrote when his legislature passed the same abortion provision. Nixon, a moderate Democrat, had the political courage to veto that measure in his conservative state, even though he knew the legislature would override his decision.

The same could happen to McCrory. House Bill 465 passed by a 74-45 margin, a couple of votes more than necessary to override a veto. But that shouldn’t stop McCrory for acknowledging the obvious – that making women wait 72 hours after first consulting with a doctor or clinic could result in child-care complications and time spent away from work.

It also doesn’t protect women’s health. Extending the waiting period from 24 to 72 hours could cause women to delay the decision until later in pregnancy. That goes against the advice of medical professionals, who say longer waiting periods for abortions could unnecessarily jeopardize women’s safety.

That’s OK with the bill’s supporters, who quite simply want to set up any barrier to abortion they can. But that’s what moderate gubernatorial candidate McCrory promised to reject three years ago.

Who knows? Now that the governor is facing reelection in 2016, he might decide to act like a moderate again.

So you can be comforted, women of North Carolina.

You are comforted, right?

Neither are we.

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