Whither the abortion bill?
Posted July 24, 2013
Updated July 25, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Hey – remember that abortion bill? The one that the Senate rolled out just before July 4 that sparked all the protests and national media attention.
It still hasn't passed.
When last we saw the measure, provisions that would impose new regulations and restrictions on abortion clinics had been tacked onto a bill dealing with motorcycle safety. The bill passed the House and returned to the Senate. In order for the measure to become law, the Senate must hold a concurrence vote.
There were very few differences between the House and Senate versions of the measure, which is usually a recipe for quick vote to send a bill on to the governor. Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, has said that he will sign the measure if it comes to him as it was drafted by the House.
However, the bill has sat in the Senate Rules Committee for the better part of two weeks with little sign of movement. Senators could bring it out of that committee and vote on it at any time during a floor session, but so far, it has sat idle.
"I think a lot of folks would be upset if it didn't pass," said John Rustin, director of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, a group that has lobbied for the bill.
So, does he think it's possible the bill might not pass?
"I hope very strongly that would not be the case," he said.
Senate leaders have said that they plan to hold a final full day of lawmaking Thursday and adjourn the legislative session sometime after 12 a.m. Friday.
But Senate leaders have been coy about the fate of the abortion bill and did not alter that tack Wednesday night.
"Before we leave," said Sen. Phil Berger, the president pro tem, when asked when the abortion bill would be heard. Asked when specifically the bill might be heard, Berger repeated, "before we leave."
That opens the intriguing possibility that one of the most high-profile, controversial bills of the session could pass – if it passes – in the wee hours of the morning when very few people are watching the process.