Top 10 ways to tell you have a bad bill: North Carolina-style
Category: State Fights
- First, you try to pass three bills that would make abortion inaccessible to women by imposing excessive, medically unnecessary, and sometimes impossible-to-meet restrictions on providers. They all fail in regular legislative session.
- Not to be deterred, you slip all three failed bills into HB 695, a bill aimed at banning Sharia law (!)—at night, during a holiday week—when you think nobody is looking. A good way to show pride in your ideas.
- Your constituents respond by rallying with less than 12 hours’ notice and show up at the legislature by the hundreds. They’ve come to make sure you know: not only were they paying attention to the procedural shortcuts and tricks you pulled, but your bill is out of touch with North Carolinians (read: bad).
- When you bring up HB 695 again, more than 2,000 women’s health supporters flood the state capitol to protest it. More than 60 people are arrested, including the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, to publicly stand up for women’s health. Catching on yet?
- You hold a hearing on HB 695, in which women’s health supporters share impassioned and heart-wrenching personal stories as testimony against the bill and the ways in which it will hurt women. Psych! You didn’t have the bill in the House yet in the first place, so you’re hearing testimony on a bill that you can’t even take action on. That’s right: your bill is SO unpopular, you won’t even tell the public where it is in the legislative process—not that you really follow the process anyway.
- The governor of your state, who normally sides with you on these issues, releases a statement saying your bill is too extreme, and threatens to veto it. To repeat: The Republican, anti-abortion governor, who tends to be okay with extreme anti-women’s health bills, says YOUR bill is too extreme and doesn’t “clearly protect the health and safety of women.”
- That whole Sharia law connection was a little bit embarrassing once people figured it out. How do you avoid detection? You attach the SAME anti-abortion provisions to another unrelated bill—this time, it’s a bill on motorcycle safety. Because nothing says “motorcycle safety” like restricting women’s access to health care.
- Accountability is for the birds, even when you have a veto-proof majority. So just to be sure your bad, bad bill doesn’t get noticed again, you don’t tell anyone—including Democratic members of the committee hearing the bill—about the change, or announce the hearing until three minutes before it happens.
- Just in case the rallies, packed galleries, and nationwide calls of outrage against your terrible bill didn’t get the message across, here’s a new piece of bad news: your voters are MAD at you. 80%--eighty percent!—of your voters disapprove of how the bill was pushed through. And poor Governor McCrory: he just saw his approval ratings take a 15-point nosedive.
- Here’s the best part: between your restrictions on women’s right to make their own medical decisions and your deplorable sneak tactics, you’ve successfully ignited a powerful movement of women’s health supporters—in North Carolina and across the country—who will now do everything they can to fight back. Thanks to your bad bill, women and their families are watching more closely than ever—and they’ll remember.
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