The Republican-controlled state Senate of North Carolina just passed an anti-Shariah-law measure less than 24 hours after lawmakers surreptitiously stuck some extremely restrictive anti-abortion amendments into it.
House Bill 695, which would prohibit the recognition of Sharia law in family courts — an increasingly popular conservative tactic that essentially serves to demonize the Islamic faith — was slated for consideration in a Senate committee on Tuesday. As soon as that committee convened, it quickly approved several abortion-related amendments to the legislation. HB 695 now combines several different anti-abortion measures that were in different stages in the legislature into one omnibus measure.
The new amendments would prevent insurance plans on Obamacare’s health marketplaces from covering abortion services, ban “sex-selective” abortions, impose unnecessary restrictions on doctors administering the abortion pill to women, and require the state’s abortion clinics to adhere to complicated new regulations that would likely force most of them to close. A similar package of abortion restrictions has inspired weeks of protest in Texas, where thousands of reproductive rights activists have been rallying at the state capitol.
The Senate committee’s official schedule made no mention of reproductive health issues.
Hours after the committee tacked on the provisions, Senate Republicans decided to bring it out for a floor vote where it was preliminarily approved. The full bill was passed by a 29-12 vote on Wednesday.
Women’s health advocates and Democratic state senators, who were caught off guard by the sneaky maneuver, have resoundingly blasted it. Among the chorus of critics was Sen. Josh Stein, who spoke out against the measure and insisted that the real things North Carolina residents should be afraid of are state Republicans.
“The irony that you all attached these anti-abortion provisions on the anti-Shariah law is really astounding,” Stein said. “That’s what this bill says, it’s about some foreign law, anti-Shariah law. There’s not a single instance of anything like that appearing in the North Carolina courts. And yet, you’re playing to people’s base fears by promoting this when we don’t have anything to fear from the Shariah types. What we have to fear is from the North Carolina General Assembly Republican Senate impinging on people’s fundamental constitutional rights.”