Fear Mongering and Oppression: Two for the Price of One in the NC Legislature

Mere moments before Americans celebrated Independence Day, the North Carolina Senate gave its final approval to legislation targeted at outlawing the use of Sharia (or Islamic) law and severely restricting the right to abortion.

The bill, text of which is available here, started out as a meaningless attempt by legislators to portray themselves as protecting the fundamental rights of the people from those scary foreign laws (i.e. the laws of countries where the law must be interpreted accord to the precepts of Islam). The law basically states that North Carolina will not apply the laws of a foreign jurisdiction in its courts, nor will it transfer a case to a foreign venue if doing so would mean that the fundamental rights of an American, as guaranteed by the United States and North Carolina Constitutions, would be violated. The reality is that this is already the law. Conflict of law principles, which help courts determine whether to apply the law of its jurisdiction or the law of another state or another country, dictate that public policy concerns – such as the violation of an individual’s fundamental rights – would prevent that court from applying the law of a foreign jurisdiction or transferring the case to a foreign venue, even if the parties had previously agreed to the application of such foreign law. All the law actually does is increase xenophobia, it is a scare tactic aimed at increasing anti-Muslim sentiment in the community. Unfortunately, if passed, the law may also have unintended effects such as impinging on international treaties and souring international business relationships.

Legislators in North Carolina were not satisfied to stop there. Renaming the bill the “Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act of 2013,” the Senate added anti-abortion measures to the unrelated bill late Tuesday, where they were passed by the Senate on Wednesday. The new bill would restrict health care coverage for abortions, ban sex-selective abortions, require physicians to be present during a chemical (pill) abortion, and require clinics performing abortions to meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center. According to news reports only one clinic in the state would meet those requirements.

On Wednesday, hundreds protested the last minute additions to the bill.

What make me curious is why are these types of bills being proposed with increasing frequency? Why were the anti-sharia and the anti-abortion bills proposed together? From what exactly is the North Carolina legislature protecting its citizens? And, don’t they have anything better to do?

The bill will need House approval before it goes to Republican Governor Pat McCrory‘s desk. The legislation will be taken up this week.

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