For a male-dominated institution that rejected women’s suffrage and voted against the Equal Rights Amendment four ties, the North Carolina General Assembly did…exactly what one would have expected them to do. Fulfilling the inevitable, the white Republican men in the NCGA passed a bill prohibiting women from obtaining abortion care after 12 weeks of pregnancy. It’s a predictable, yet startling, truncation of women’s autonomy, and the response to the rule-to-be may resound with politically punishing force.
The North Carolina Republican legislative caucus is 88% male and 98% white. These people convened out of public view for months to work out, man-to-man how severely they wanted to restrict women’s rights. The composition of these bull sessions clearly shape the results, as the long and anguished floor debate would eventually demonstrate. It’s clear that none of them knew or cared about this state’s atrocious Black maternal mortality rate–a damning rebuttal to their “pro-life” protestations that required African American Democratic women to raise. As always, representation makes a difference.
The righteous anger of those women reflected a long tradition of resistance to government overreach in our state. Throughout the history of North Carolina, when the people have perceived that politicians overstepped their bounds the consequences for elites have been severe. In 1677, only 13 years after the colony’s founding, Carolinians revolted against new laws restricting their ability to sell tobacco in the fashion they preferred. This pattern of backlash would repeat itself twice more before the Revolutionary War with Cary’s Rebellion and the Regulator War. If North Carolinians won’t tolerate limits on how they can market crops, how will half the state’s population draw upon this heritage when elected men (elected by men) seek to control their bodies?
After all, the state opposes new abortion restrictions. A Meredith College poll found that 56% of North Carolinians support abortion rights at minimum as liberal as the law permitted in 2022. Republicans insist that a 12-week ban polls well, but voters respond less to the details of policy than to the general climate they perceive as emanating from Raleigh. In this environment, women will divine a message of punitive hostility purveyed against them by over 100 powerful white men.
An important caveat stems from the scourge of learned helplessness. Since the Great Republican Takeover, it’s become clear that GOP legislators can get away with quite a bit of unpopular policy. Most of their agenda has garnered opposition from a majority of the state, but due to the black magic of negative partisanship they’ve managed to keep their majorities in the legislature. Toxic policy has not automatically upended their political hegemony
Except when liberty is involved. When Republicans have traduced North Carolinians’ personal freedoms, the affected citizens have consistently responded with fervent affront. For example, Pat McCrory lost reelection because his political identity came to be associated with the repression of trans Carolinians. North Carolina has seldom tolerated government intrusions on the sphere of liberty, whether in the 17th century or the new millennium. Patriarchy is about to arouse liberty’s ghost.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.
“The North Carolina Republican legislative caucus is 88% male and 98% white.”
MAGA scum just like their orange god.
As a woman in this state I can tell you the rage is palpable.
Uh huh. Sure it is. LOL. What a joke. “rage” lol Like granny Fauxcahontas? ( Elizabeth Warren) Raging at the Supreme court when roe was sent back to the states where it rightfully belongs? oooohhhh such rage? Impotent rage…. What are you going to do?
You still have everything you’ve always had. If it ever becomes law, (doubtful) you just have to do it sooner And some rules to assure that everyone has an understanding of what is going on. Ridiculous hyperbole. Veto is 200% certain and an override is not likely.
I haven’t seen Democrats this furious since your slaves were taken away! But then again you are ALWAYS” raging” AT SOMETHING. Are you guys EVER HAPPY?
Can someone please this to me? What is the deal? You guys act as if its a sacrilege, to have the merest thought of touching the ability to murder your child. As if its a heresy on the holy sacrament of abortion!
Explain it to me.