The governor tells another whopper

The Observer editorial board

Gov. Pat McCrory
Gov. Pat McCrory cseward@newsobserver.com

Until this week, if you were a woman in North Carolina who decided to have an abortion, you could call or visit a provider on Monday morning and have the procedure done on Tuesday.

Now, once N.C. House Bill 465 is signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory, you will be required to wait until Thursday.

Agree with it or not, that extra two days is a restriction on access to abortion.

Late Wednesday, the governor said he will sign H465 when it reaches his desk. In a statement, he also explained how he worked with House and Senate members on the bill “to ensure there will be no further restrictions on access” to abortions.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The governor is not only signing a bill that breaks a plainly stated promise he made in his campaign about restricting abortions, he’s telling North Carolinians that he worked to ensure there would be no further restrictions on abortion.

We call such a statement by a few different names these days. We say it’s “spin” or maybe “misleading” or even just “politics.” But there’s another word – lie – that people are more uncomfortable saying out loud. Maybe we shouldn’t be.

Because you can believe a 72-hour waiting period gives women ample time to contemplate a life-altering decision, or you can believe as we do that it’s intrusive and creates hardship. But all North Carolinians should be troubled by how comfortable their governor is getting with deception.

From campaign promises to claims about Duke Energy stock ownership to fibbing about his role in his brother’s company, McCrory has shown a troubling inclination toward dishonesty. Wednesday’s statement was an even more brazen example of saying something that clearly wasn’t so.

Of course, McCrory is far from the first public official to deliberately fudge the truth. For instance, we also were critical in this space of President Barack Obama for telling Americans they could keep their health care plan under Obamacare when he and his staff knew that was untrue.

But deception comes with its own risks. Voters may have an increasing tolerance for spin – or at least an increasing expectation of it – but we still want to believe that our leaders won’t flat out tell falsehoods.

Perhaps McCrory felt he had few alternatives. If he vetoed the abortion bill, he faced another likely override from Republicans who already slapped down the governor’s veto on an ag-gag bill this week. Such a slap would leave McCrory looking rather impotent – unable to bring enough lawmakers to his side on important issues.

Or perhaps, with polls showing North Carolinians somewhat split on abortion rights and restrictions, McCrory simply decided to do what he thought was best, campaign promise or not.

He could have said just that Wednesday. He could have told North Carolinians that as a candidate, you sometimes don’t see the nuances of policy that you see as governor. And now that he has, he thinks this is the right approach to abortions in our state.

Or that he just changed his mind. Or that he changed his mind but saved N.C. women from even more restrictions.

Such statements surely would have been met with anger. Some might have called the governor weasely for changing his mind. So instead, McCrory is pretending that he’s been consistent, and even that he’s a protector of the status quo for women.

It’s galling. It’s a sign that McCrory thinks little of the intelligence of N.C. voters. It’s also, very simply, not true. Again.