Abortion law breaks McCrory promise

Posted July 29, 2013
Updated July 30, 2013

— During an Oct. 24, 2012, debate, WRAL News reporter Laura Leslie asked soon-to-be Gov. Pat McCrory the following: "If you are elected governor, what further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign?"

McCrory's one-word reply: "None." 

So when McCrory signed a package of changes to the state's abortion laws Monday, did he break that campaign pledge? 

McCrory makes the case that the bill does not "further restrict" access to abortion, while advocates suggest that it does. This promise is among those WRAL News has tracked during the governor's term.  

He can certainly lay claim to influencing the course of the bill through the legislature and demanding changes that made the measure somewhat less strict than originally introduced. However, there are still provisions in the measure that would limit the availability of abortion for some women. 

Given the absolute nature of his promise, by signing Senate Bill 353, he broke that promise. 

Veto threat leads to bill's revision

Shortly before the July 4th holiday, the state Senate tacked a sweeping abortion reform bill onto a measure designed to deal with the application of foreign law in North Carolina's family law courts. McCrory said he would veto that measure, saying that parts of it were clearly aimed at restricting access to, rather than improving the safety of, abortions. 

Hours after that veto threat, a House committee took a different bill – this one dealing with motorcycle safety – and pasted in a similar suite of abortion measures.

McCrory declared he would sign that bill because it made certain changes from the Senate version.

"Because of the veto threat, that bill was changed to our satisfaction," McCrory said during a post-legislative-session news conference. "We're not going to limit access in those facilities. We're going to increase the safety in those facilities."

The key change in the bill that McCrory pointed to revolved around regulations for abortion clinics. The Senate version of the bill would have required clinics to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers. The House version softens that requirement by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to use the ambulatory surgical rules as a guide "while not unduly restricting access" to abortion.

Republican backers of the bill, including Rep. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, point out the measure merely draws regulations with which abortion clinics have to comply. They argue that, if clinics choose to close because of the rules, that should not be held against the regulations. 

However, there is still a strong case to be made that the end result of the bill would be to further limit access to abortions:

  • The use of the ambulatory surgical center standard was not completely eliminated. Depending on what regulations are drafted by DHHS, it could still force expensive upgrades that abortion clinics may find too costly or physically impossible to comply with because of their locations. According to legislative staff, only one abortion clinic in North Carolina can currently meet the full ambulatory surgical standard. McCrory says he will direct DHHS staff to draft the guidelines in such a way that no clinic will shut down, but similar provisions in other states have led to clinic closures. 
  • The bill allows any health care provider to opt out of providing care related to an abortion. This could lead to a shortage of personnel available during certain procedures. 
  • The bill forbids health plans offered through the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act from offering abortion coverage. While this does not restrict the availability of the procedure, it does limit the ability of women to acquire coverage that might pay for the procedure. 
  • The bill forbids cities and counties from offering health plans that cover abortion procedures. Taken together, the two insurance provisions would make it more difficult for low-income women to seek abortions.

During a recent episode of "On the Record," Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, a proponent of the legislation, was asked if the measure "was purely an attempt to limit abortions as severely as you can in North Carolina." Stam answered, "Well, it's partly that, but certainly not mostly that." 

McCrory differs with that assessment.

"We are not signing a bill which will limit future access," McCrory insisted in the July 26 news conference. "Our goal is to keep every current facility open that's open today."

However, there is a much stronger argument to be made that the bill would in fact "further restrictions on abortion." Signing that bill breaks the governor's campaign promise.


This blog post is closed for comments.

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  • alwayslovingu30 Aug 2, 2013

    nice.less money wasted but he will waste it some where else

  • skeeter II Jul 31, 2013

    I do not think answering a reporter's question can be considered a "campaign promise". Look at the national side where Obama has not carried out "campaign promises" that he made in many performances! But the media does not question why he "broke" his campaign promises which were in many of his performances!

    The media "loves" Obama but blamed Pres Bush for everything -- including most of Obama's first four years in office!

  • josephlawrence43 Jul 31, 2013

    @bill15: Oh, lets not be bashful here--wanna talk spending?? How about $840 BILLION in stimulus in which something like 70% of the money ended up OVERSEAS. How many jobs were created in the civilian job market with this money? How about increasing the food stamp program by 47 million people? Want to keep going? How about the previously mentioned $5.5 BILLION dollars in pork barrel projects that Obama PROMISED to cut out--and then refused to do so, saying "IT WAS SOMEONE ELSES' BUDGET"??? oH--and by-the-by, how about the ADDITIONAL $10 Billion dollars Obamacare is going to cost the people because OBAMA gave his big industrial buddies a year long delay in implementing Obama care/

  • sorryyouralib Jul 31, 2013

    I still find it interesting that wral is following this governors every move, but didn't seem to care about old Bev that much. How about looking at the promises that have been broken by the Dems over the last 70 years
    Starting with social security will never be used for anything but retirement and will never be taxed.

  • bill15 Jul 31, 2013

    "My point is that if McCrory is going to accused of breaking his promise, why should the Neophyte Community Organizer not bear the onus of breaking HIS promise "

    Um, I assume you are referring to Obama, the smallest government spender since Eisenhower? Look that up, it's a cold fact. I'm imagine facts bum you out because they don't favor your pals who say they are "conservative" and won't get involved with "nation building" but then cut taxes and rack up over a trillion$ in unfunded war and reconstruction costs. But let's not criticize what works so out so well for the large corporations of the world, they seem deserve greater rights than individuals in the GOP constitution. Smaller spender than Reagan, and better growth in the stock market. Y'll hate those facts.

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Jul 31, 2013

    McCrory. One and done.

  • josephlawrence43 Jul 30, 2013

    "Yes he did. What is your point? What relevance does it have on this topic? Did he make the Gov lie? Still Orthodox Celt: The point being that people are trying condemn McCrory for breaking his "promise" due to a set of circumstances well beyond his control. And WRAL and its minions seem happy to do so. My point is that if McCrory is going to accused of breaking his promise, why should the Neophyte Community Organizer not bear the onus of breaking HIS promise to strip out any and all pork barrel spending that crossed his desk. In May of 2009, he had the opportunity to cancel out $5.5 Billion in pork spending. HE BROKE HIS PROMISE AND DID NOT DO IT. Now, why is McCrorys situation in any way different from Obama and his PROMISE? Your practiced spin and tapdance is going to be interesting.

  • Liebe ist fur alle Jul 30, 2013

    "Because we are talking about life, this is a most emotional and difficult subject."

    no we aren't.

    "abortion on demand is legal and lives are ended daily. "

    no they aren't

    ?and this is as serious a subject as there is considering the number of abortion on demand that are wanted and happen."

    not even 1/3 as serious as you want to make it

  • Liebe ist fur alle Jul 30, 2013

    "Granting rights to the fetus is the civil rights issue of our time"

    no it isn't.

    "Most Americans are now against abortion on demand"


    "Abortion rights folks have their way now, but not always, for there is hope for change."

    not really, but it is desperately cute you have hope.

  • djofraleigh Jul 30, 2013

    "Why are people going overseas to get newborns?" - comment

    They want newborns...and they are avoiding teh black babies in favor of Asian ones. -- REPLY

    The womb is a most dangerous place in the USA for a black baby, for more African-American babies have been aborted in the last 40 years than all the deaths of African Americans by violent crime, AIDS, heart disease, cancer and accidents COMBINED.