Sixty-four abortion-rights activists were arrested Monday evening during the continuing "Moral Monday" protests in North Carolina's capitol. The protests, which have addressed topics ranging from voting rights to school vouchers, are currently in their tenth week. Monday's drew over 2,000 people to Raleigh and centered on recent abortion restrictions passed by the state Senate.
The Senate snuck these restrictions into a bill otherwise concerned with banning Sharia law on July 3. The amendments would require increased regulation of abortion clinics that would likely cause many to close. They would also place restrictions on doctors administering the abortion pill and prevent some insurance plans from covering abortion services. At the time, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory criticized the Senate's process, claiming, "regardless of what party is in charge or what important issue is being discussed, the process must be appropriate and thorough."
Republican State Sen. Warren Daniel argued in favor of the amendments: "We’re not here today taking away the rights of women. We’re taking away the rights of an industry to have substandard conditions." The House committee debated the bill on Tuesday. It seems McCrory is at a loss for how to talk about the bill — it's clear that he doesn't agree with it, but he doesn't want to alienate social conservatives. In a press conference at the executive mansion on Monday, he told reporters,
"There's a fine line between safety measures and restrictions, but those two lines should not be confused, and I'm very concerned about the responsibility to ensure the health of women is protected."
McCrory hasn't explicitly stated whether or not he'd sign the bill if it landed on his desk. One of the protesters arrested last night, Tanya Glover, 34, told Reuters, "this state has gone to hell and it's hurting my family."
U.S. District Judge William Conley placed a temporary restraining order on abortion legislation on Monday. The bill, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Friday, requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles. It also requires that women seeking abortions undergo an ultrasound, but that part isn't being contested.
Attorneys argued that if the law were to stand, many women would have to cancel existing appointments at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton and the Affiliated Medical Clinic in Milwaukee this week. Conley noted,
There is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement . . . Moreover, the record to date strongly supports a finding that no medical purpose is served by this requirement.
The block will remain in place until July 17, pending a fuller hearing. Last week, a small number of abortion-rights activists protested the bill outside Walker's house in Wauwatosa.