Loading...
BYH: To the city of Greenville. You spend dollars promoting uptown Greenville to draw many in. Now you want to drive...

Born alive bill simply a political trap

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell is editor of the Insider State Government News Service.

Loading…

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

If you value fact-based debate and impactful public policy, the state legislature's action over its "born alive abortion survivor" bill last week was cringeworthy.

The proposal brought the year's most overheated rhetoric to Raleigh, and the outlandish claims kept the fact-checkers busy.

But despite the eye-popping statements you heard from politicians, no one actually believes that doctors should let a living, breathing baby die if the mother had initially wanted an abortion. It's an incredibly rare occurrence with no documented cases in North Carolina. And no one — at least with this particular legislation — is trying to restrict abortion rights.

So what was the point of this? Why stoke people's fears and passions over one of the most emotional issues in politics? After all, with Gov. Roy Cooper's veto, the bill is unlikely to become law. And if the issue was truly important to Republicans, they would have passed it last year when they had a veto-proof majority.

The real goal here was to set a clever political trap for Cooper and legislative Democrats. This bill was designed to be uniquely thorny for Democrats.

The GOP was hoping Democrats would oppose the measure as they do with most abortion-related legislation, and the campaign attack ads were ready to roll. It was a perfect set-up to make accusations that Democrats are OK with killing babies.

Hours after Cooper's veto, his likely 2020 opponent, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, had a slick graphic on Twitter with a photo of a baby. "Elections aren't usually matters of life and death … but sometimes they are," the caption said, pointing to the veto.

It's a ludicrous claim, but we live in a hyperpartisan era where many people seriously believe that their political adversaries are evil. And Democrats didn't have any politically savvy options to avoid the GOP's trap.

Sure, they could have voted yes while pointing out that the legislation wasn't necessary and likely wouldn't apply to real-life scenarios. But that would anger the Democratic base, who would think their leaders were caving in to the anti-abortion lobby.

Many Democrats stuck to the facts: The bill is redundant because existing murder and manslaughter laws would likely be adequate to prosecute the hypothetical bad doctor. That's what PolitiFact found after talking with legal experts.

But some Democrats decided to ratchet up the rhetoric to rile up their supporters and rake in campaign cash. Why let the Republicans have all the fun?

"BREAKING NEWS: Roy just vetoed the GOP's bill attacking women's rights!!" Cooper's re-election campaign wrote in an email to supporters. Never mind that the bill has no effect on existing abortion rights, as PolitiFact noted, and it specifically exempts mothers from criminal prosecution in the "born alive" scenario.

Not only is the rhetoric false, it serves to divide the Democratic Party. Six legislative Democrats — all minorities, all from socially conservative rural districts — voted yes on the bill. Does the governor's campaign think they oppose women's rights?

The "abortion survivor" debate will ultimately impact few, if any, real people, but it's a distraction from the current legislative action that affects all North Carolinians. Lawmakers are pushing forward a bipartisan bill that could make it easier for Duke Energy to raise your electric bill. And legislative leaders recently introduced a new package of tax cuts that deserves a robust debate.

If we're truly concerned about North Carolina's littlest citizens, we'd also be talking about a little-noticed study last week from the National Institute for Early Education Research, which found that state spending on pre-K programs is "not sufficient to maintain the quality of the program," according to a news report by EducationNC.

Those are just a few of the real issues our state is grappling with. So let's stop the 2020 political posturing, stick to the facts, and get to work.

Colin Campbell is editor of the Insider State Government News Service.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

August 21, 2019

For many parents, August is a month of both pride and tears. Pride because their teenager is taking that big educational step and tears because for many it's the beginning of an empty nest. Yet, there's a going-away-to-college question that far too few parents ask or even contemplate: What will my…

Walter Williams

August 18, 2019

I have had the distinct honor and privilege of leading the Greenville VA Health Care Center as the Administrator and Associate Administrator since November 2016.

Over the past two and a half years, I have enjoyed working all of the veterans and staff members as we grew together, overcame obstacles,…

Forte.jpg

July 23, 2019

Since being sworn in January, I have been working hard to help the people I represent in Lenoir and Pitt counties — and the biggest opportunity to do this has been through the state budget. I’ve talked with elected officials, educators, administrators, nonprofits, business owners,…

121718chrishumphrey

July 12, 2019

Over the past three years, I have had the good fortune to work on a project that has the potential to transform the farming landscape in eastern North Carolina, one that involves harnessing gas produced from hog waste.

As CEO and founder of OptimaBio, our work with Smithfield Foods to capture…

Maloney

July 01, 2019

The American system of checks and balances government does not work the way most people think it does or the way the Founding Fathers said it would.

The president serves at the pleasure of Congress, just as the prime minister of the UK serves at the pleasure of Parliament, which means that the…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 26, 2019

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for Americans to make reparations for slavery. On June 19, the House judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and civil liberties held a hearing. Its stated purpose was "to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the…

Walter Williams

June 10, 2019

The New York Times 

“Because it’s there.” For those who grew up on George Mallory’s famous explanation for his yearning to scale Mount Everest, with all the romance, danger and spirit of exploration it implied, that viral photograph of an endless line of climbers in…

June 10, 2019

Although it may not appear so, the leaders of both major political parties in North Carolina favor lowering the tax burden of large businesses. Their real dispute is about the scope and magnitude of the tax relief.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has consistently opposed recent state budgets, crafted by…

john hood.jpg

June 10, 2019

We are just weeks away from the first of 20 Democratic debates scheduled this primary season. It gets underway over two nights in Miami on June 26 and 27, and never before has there been a debate this early in the election and potentially this important.

The reason there are so many candidates, 23…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 09, 2019

Gerrymandering has always been part of American politics. After all, the term was coined in 1812 after Massachusetts governor and Founding Father Elbridge Gerry endorsed a state senate district that resembled a salamander.

Until recently, federal courts have been highly reluctant to enter the…

Steve and Cokie Roberts
107 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 11
        Next Page»   Last Page»