Republicans in the Texas legislature have held not one but two special sessions to try and pass anti-choice legislation. Ohio Republicans bundled their abortion restrictions into the yearly budget bill to avoid debate. Now, in North Carolina, a bill meant to ban Sharia law has been amended to include multiple abortion restrictions that had been proposed earlier in the year.
HB 695, titled the “Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act,” was written to protect the state from the influences of “foreign law.” The bill was modified to include a ban on abortion coverage in insurance offered in the state health exchange, a ban on sex-selective abortions, changes to the Women’s Right to Know Act that would require a physician to be present during both surgical and medication abortions, additional protections for health-care providers who have “conscience” objections to assisting with abortion care, and a requirement that abortion clinics be held to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, requiring a transfer agreement with a local hospital, among other things. In short, the Sharia law bill combines a number of the pending abortion restrictions proposed throughout the North Carolina legislative session into one massive omnibus bill.
The revamped bill was unveiled late Tuesday evening; lobbyists in favor of the bill were reportedly being given notice prior to the evening’s committee meeting, but the bill’s opponents were not, according to WRAL.com. “This is a cowardly move intended to silence pro-choice voices because they know that if they show their extreme agenda in the light of day, they’ll hear from us,” Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, said in a statement. “Within minutes of introducing these amendments, they’ve land on the Senate floor for a vote—in so little time that North Carolina’s pro-choice majority won’t be able to weigh in with the very legislators who represent them.”