Source: Editorial Board
North Carolina Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Newton put his foot in his mouth earlier this month when compared the end of slavery to the right-wing effort to ban abortion during his appearance on “State Lines” on PBS North Carolina.
While appearing with The News & Observer’s Dawn Vaughan, Mitch Kokai of the John Locke Foundation and North Carolina Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (D-15), at the 24-minute mark, Newton compared the efforts to ban abortion to the “incrementalism” that led to the end of slavery.
“It’s a cultural issue. Slavery was overcome by incrementalism. So, if you personally believe that life begins at conception, anything other than that is incrementalism,” he said. “So, where you land on that spectrum hopefully begins, continues to move our culture toward life. And then hopefully one day we won’t even be having the debate in the halls of the legislature.”
Newton’s tone-deaf comparison also illustrates what advocates have always known, that Republicans have always sought to chip away at access to reproductive care until they reach their ultimate goal of banning abortion altogether.
Newton himself has said that he would support banning abortion in all cases except “ectopic pregnancy,” according to a 2022 Candidate Survey. Newton also said he believes that “birth begins at conception,” an extreme position that would ban most common forms of birth control.
Newton reiterated his personal belief that life begins at conception during his interview with PBS State Lines. However, he has previously stated that “political realities may not accommodate that belief in law” so he would support a ban on abortion at six weeks.
This proposal would ban abortion before most women even know that they are pregnant. House Speaker Tim Moore has also indicated that he would support such a proposal.
In addition to his extreme views on abortion, Newton has also established himself as a leader within the NCGOP on election law and has proposed a number of measures that “provide obstacles” to voting.
In 2021, during a nationwide movement from Republicans to restrict voting following Donald Trump’s loss in 2020, Newton proposed legislation in the state Senate that would have prevented counties from counting valid mail-in absentee ballots if they were postmarked before or on Election Day – unless they were received by polling places by 5 p.m. on Election Day. Such a proposal either showed his complete lack of understanding of how the United States mail system works, or more likely, proved that his real goal was to disenfranchise voters.
Newton said it was “suspicious” for completely legal and valid absentee ballots to be counted after Election Day. According to The Duke Chronicle, Newton’s proposal would have resulted in the tossing out of 11,000 North Carolinians’ legal ballots in the 2020 election.
Newton also took the lead in the successful effort to completely eliminate the corporate income tax over the next few years, despite North Carolina’s current rate being the lowest in the nation.
As a leader in the Senate Republican Caucus, Newton continues to push an extreme agenda. Since the legislative session began in January, Newton has sponsored proposals that would impose barriers to voting, harm LGBTQ+ kids’ mental health, and eliminate the permitting process for obtaining a handgun.