Politics

08.01.13

Bastards in North Carolina

I trust you’ve been paying at least a little attention to what’s been going on in North Carolina. An arch-conservative governor and state legislature are on a mission to redefine the state as some kind of laboratory of Tea Party utopianism, where the 47 percenters and the sinners finally get what they deserve. Here’s Ari Berman in The Nation recently:

So far this year, legislation passed or pending by Republicans would eliminate the earned-income tax credit for 900,000; decline Medicaid coverage for 500,000; end federal unemployment benefits for 170,000 in a state with the country’s fifth-highest jobless rate; cut pre-K for 30,000 kids while shifting $90 million from public education to voucher schools; slash taxes for the top 5 percent while raising taxes on the bottom 95 percent; allow for guns to be purchased without a background check and carried in parks, playgrounds, restaurants and bars; ax public financing of judicial races; and prohibit death row inmates from challenging racially discriminatory verdicts.

The actions haven’t gone unchallenged—every Monday, large numbers of protestors have shown up at the state capitol to sit in and face arrest.

Now, buckle up as I tell you about the latest turn. A week ago, the state legislature passed a new motorcycle safety law. That doesn’t sound very interesting or controversial. But legislators tucked into the law—on the last full day of the legislative session—sweeping abortion restrictions that are worded in such a way as to close 15 of the state’s 16 abortion providers. Only one existing clinic meets the standards in the new law.

There’s more. Yesterday, the state Department of Health and Human Services suspended the license of that one clinic, in Asheville. A letter cited “egregious violations” of rules such that an “imminent threat” to patients existed. The director of the clinic said the safety protocols are the same as they’ve always been and that the clinic’s track record is spotless. But now the rules have changed, in this new motorcycle safety law. [UPDATE: I'm told that this is incorrect, that the Asheville clinic wasn't closed under the new law, whose specific regulations haven't been written yet.]

Oh—and last night, the director of the DHHS resigned in protest.