C is for Cookie, and Cookies are for… Abortion Restrictions?

Cookie gateI love cookies—especially chocolate chip cookies. It would take nothing short of early-onset diabetes to make me say no to my favorite gooey confection. Imagine my horror when on Tuesday, July 30, Governor Pat McCrory made me hate cookies. Cue gasps…

Our story begins a week ago Friday, when a group of North Carolinians held vigil outside the governor’s mansion to protest a bill that enforces radical new restrictions on access to abortion. The bill—now a law—requires abortion clinics to meet the same medical standards as ambulatory surgical centers. McCrory states that “these higher standards will result in safer conditions for North Carolina women.” Given that hospitals cost millions of dollars to build and maintain, the new law will force 15 of North Carolina’s 16 abortion providers to close. McCrory signed the bill on Monday evening—despite the fact that he explicitly promised not to enact any additional restrictions on abortion during his gubernatorial campaign.

On Tuesday, things went from bad to worse: the Governor handed off a paper plate of cookies to one of the protesters outside his mansion. McCrory, surrounded by four of his security guards, gestured for Chapel Hill resident Jamie Sohn to approach. As he handed her a half dozen chocolate chip cookies, he said, “These are for you. God bless, God bless, God bless.” Then he and his security guards walked away.

The protesters turned around and delivered the cookies, untouched, to the Governor’s front gate with a note that read “Will take women’s health over cookies!” Then they began to chant: “Hey, Pat, that was rude. You wouldn’t give cookies to a dude.” I have to agree; the Governor wouldn’t give a single, paper plate of cookies to the National Rifle Association. My guess is that they’d get something manly and substantial like barbeque chicken or ham sandwiches.

While the Governor likely did not intend to condescend, his offering of baked goods to a group of women who have fought to prove their intellectual distance from the kitchen certainly reads as patronizing. It doesn’t help that McCrory has refused to meet with the protesters– even after they hand-delivered a petition with the signatures of 35,000 North Carolina women in opposition of the new law last week. Paige Johnson, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina stated: “These women care passionately about women’s health, and they’d been standing out there for two days and [the Governor] had no communications with us. We have volunteers who’ve traveled for hours to be here, who have taken off from work and gotten arrested”.  Yet they had not seen the governor. Where’s the respect?

On Wednesday, Ryan Tronovitch, deputy communications director for Governor McCrory, told CNN, “Sometimes a plate of cookies is just a plate of cookies.” When asked if the Governor had made the cookies himself, Tronovitch responded, “Probably not,” noting that McCrory had serious state issues to attend to, like the economy. I guess that the health of millions of women does not qualify as a “serious state issue.” Thanks, Governor.




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