About 20 people rallied July 26 in downtown Asheville to urge Gov. Pat McCrory to keep a campaign promise he made not to sign any new abortion restrictions into law.
McCrory has indicated he's likely to support a law passed by the General Assembly that will authorize state regulators to decide on new standards for abortion clinics using those that now apply to ambulatory surgical centers as a guide. McCrory argues that such changes will help "ensure women's safety."
However, the freshman Republican governor, formerly the mayor of Charlotte, was recently slammed in an editorial by his hometown paper for "breaking his promise."
"McCrory isn’t fooling anyone but himself," wrote the editorial board of the Charlotte Observer.
"The … bill makes it harder and more costly for abortions to be performed, and makes access more difficult. It requires doctors to remain present for an entire surgical abortion. The physician also must be present when a woman takes the first dose for a chemically induced abortion," the paper explains. "It also blocks any money from the online health insurance marketplace set up under the federal Affordable Care Act from going to fund abortions, and says abortions may not be included in county or city employee health plans."
"These are clearly further restrictions on abortions – the kind of legislation you pledged on the campaign trail you would not sign – and they have little to do with ensuring a woman’s safety," the editorial concludes.
Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC, cited the editorial at the Asheville rally, which he helped organize. Earlier that morning, he drove around the city in truck featuring a mobil billboard that calls on the governor to "keep your word."
"Our effort with the billboard is to remind people of what he said," Brenner explained. "We know what McCrory said, and we know what the bill says. The two don't match."
Brenner encouraged attendees to write letters to the editor in local papers and ask to local officials to take a stand against the measure.
One of them, Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell, participated in the rally, and had strong words for McCrory.
"McCrory's a lying sack of whatever you want to put him in," he exclaimed, maintaining that the new law would increase insurance costs for city employees and other residents. Bothwell reported that he regularly escorts women to a local abortion clinic to help protect them from protestors.
Another participant, Dr. Susan Ortiz, called the state proposal "a slap in the face to women." A professor of Sociology at Warren Wilson College, Ortiz noted that she's four months pregnant herself. "I can't imagine how people could tell a woman what to do with their own body," she asserted. "It's disgusting. … it's about controlling women's sexuality."
Pictured here: Susan Ortiz