Friday, July 12, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #116 - Part 2

Good news 2: Moral Monday

Here’s another good news-bad news deal; this time the good news comes first.

For the past two months there have been demonstrations every week at the state capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina. The weekly protests are known as “Moral Monday” and they are intended to show opposition to the increasingly-reactionary actions of the state legislature, which seems determined to plunge the state headlong into the 19th century.

The numbers have ranged from dozens to 3,000 and the focus of protests have ranged from legislation that rejected the expansion of Medicaid to the working poor, slashed benefits to the unemployed, and eliminated jobs in public education, as well as addressing not-directly-economic issues like natural gas drilling, school vouchers, and voting rights.

Over 700 people have been arrested in nonviolent civil disobedience over the weeks and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that the protests are going to stop.

One of the biggest turnouts was this week, in the wake of the state Senate’s underhanded passage last week of new restrictions on access to legal abortion. The body had been considering a ban on the “application of foreign law” in family courts, an “anti-Sharia Law” bill that many opponents say is a thinly veiled attempt at stoking anti-Muslim sentiment in the state.

Then at the last minute, with no public notice, no hearings, and no debate, the troglodyte majority added to the bill a series of requirements that abortion clinics conform to the same safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers, a totally medically unnecessary requirement intended to force most clinics to shut down for lack of funds to meet the new demands. It was all done in less than 24 hours, a period even GOPper Gov. Pat McCrory said was unfairly rushed.

Come Monday, 2,000 people jammed the capitol and 64 were arrested for refusing to leave.

The protest may have had some impact: Leaders in the state House say said they are going to consult more with state regulators before deciding whether to vote on the new regulations and state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos has already said that if safety is the issue, as proponents lyingly claim, state funding for more frequent inspections of abortion clinics would do a better job.

If the bill isn’t passed before the current session ends, which could be as soon as next week, the legislature will have to wait until January to revisit the issue.

State Senator Earline Parmon accurately noted that "It's a small victory," but it’s still a victory.

And the protests, the Moral Mondays, go on. To know that people have not given up, that people are prepared to be on the streets, to put their bodies on the line, that people are prepared to keep the fire lit, that is - to me at least - really good news.

What’s the bad news part? It’s necessary. The protests, the disobedience, the fight - it’s all necessary, now more than ever. And that is depressing.

Footnote: Worth mentioning is the fact that among the people arrested was Rev. Frederick Battle. The last time he was arrested was in 1962 when he took part in the historic Woolworth’s department store sit-in in Greensboro. If you don’t know about that, look it up.


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