Republican Senators in North Carolina on Tuesday added a set of abortion restrictions to a bill prohibiting the application of foreign law, including Sharia, in the state’s family courts.
After a failed attempt earlier this spring to pass a bill that would open doors for an official state religion, the ban on Sharia — the moral and religious code of Islam — is considered by many the next best option.
There has been no evidence to suggest that Sharia — or any foreign laws — have been or would be often used in the state courts, which begs the question: why was this bill actually passed? Tacking the suite of abortion restrictions on to the ban of foreign law gives those in favor of the bill the ability to paint the opposition as rabid pro-choicers who want Sharia law, an extreme depiction that could help the bill's Republican support base.
The abortion measures were brought up in an unusual meeting late Tuesday. The Democratic opposition said the process deliberately circumvented the public's ability to learn about the legislation before it was voted on.
The senate met on various other issues all day, and just before 5:20 p.m. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) announced the Judiciary 1 Committee meeting planned for 5:30 p.m. Until that time the agenda included only House Bill 695 prohibiting the recognition of foreign law, but almost immediately upon starting the meeting, the Senate amended the bill to include the regulations on abortion clinics.
The prohibition of foreign law has been a popular conservative decision in recent years; seven other states — Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee — have similar bans already in place.
Ironically, North Carolina could have used Sharia law to advance their anti-abortion legislation. Sharia law considers it generally impermissible to conduct an abortion after 16 weeks, an earlier deadline than most U.S. clinics. But in a red state fighting to stay red, any support of Islam is likely too risky — so instead the Senate chose to tie pro-choice to support for Islam, polarizing both issues as much as possible.
The passing of this bill, both because of what it contains and how it was introduced, shows the backwardness of the North Carolina State Senate. According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics North Carolina has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country at 8.8%. But instead of focusing on job creation or education reform, the Senate sneaked in this ban on foreign law and abortion without giving the public a chance to comment.
Earlier this month they passed legislation loosening gun laws. And since the Supreme Court's decision striking down parts of the Voting Rights Act, Republicans have wasted no time advancing a slate of voting laws including a voter ID law, the elimination of early voting days, and restrictions on same-day registration.
The GOP holds a 65% majority over the Democrats in the North Carolina House and a 66% majority in the Senate. In a state that is predominately, red the legislature seems to be making ebery attempt to keep it that way. But watch out, North Carolina, there are plenty of radical-Sharia-loving pro-choice-promoting radicals in the rest of the country.