Motorcyclists Hijacked in North Carolina

Traveling through North Carolina recently, it is evident that abortion is a topic of great concern. Every country road we traveled was lit...

Traveling through North Carolina recently, it is evident that abortion is a topic of great concern. Every country road we traveled was littered with signs protesting against abortion. Apparently, motorcycle safety seems to be a serious concern as well. But what has motorcycle safety got to do with abortion?

North Carolina Bill SB 353 written and presented to General Assembly in April, 2013 raised the fines for any motorist causing a motorcyclist to change lanes as a result of not signaling to $500. The bill also included fines of $5000 for any motorist causing said motorcyclist to have an accident as a result of not signaling. The bill read this way initially:

(a1) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section and causes a motorcycle operator to change travel lanes or leave that portion of any public street or highway designated as travel lanes shall be responsible for an infraction and shall be assessed a fine of not less than two hundred dollars ($200.00). A person who violates subsection (a) of this section that results in a crash causing property damage or personal injury to a motorcycle operator or passenger shall be responsible for an infraction and shall be assessed a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500.00) unless subsection (a2) of this section applies.

(a2) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section and the violation results in a crash causing property damage in excess of five thousand dollars ($5,000) or a serious bodily injury as defined in G.S. 20-160.1(b) to a motorcycle operator or passenger shall be responsible for an infraction and shall be assessed a fine of not less than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00). A violation of this subsection shall be treated as a failure to yield right-of-way to a motorcycle for purposes of assessment of points under G.S. 20-16(c). In addition, the trial judge shall have the authority to order the license of any driver violating this subsection suspended for a period not to exceed 30 days.

In a stealth move this morning, North Carolina House Republicans pushed legislation that would restrict abortion access, attaching the measure to the unrelated SB 353 motorcycle safety bill and giving neither the public nor Democratic legislators any advance notice. The amendments would prevent state health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act from offering policies that cover abortion, restrict doctors' ability to administer abortion-inducing medication, and impose new regulations on abortion clinics that opponents say would shut down all but one clinic in the state. While several anti-abortion advocates were present for the vote Tuesday night, no reproductive rights advocates were there because they had not been alerted that the amendments were being considered. They passed the bill Wednesday morning by a vote of 29 to 12.

Fortunately for North Carolina motorcyclists, the bill has passed the State Senate at this point, but the Governor has not indicated whether he would sign it or not.

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