UPDATED: Gov. Pat McCrory hasn't been willing to meet with the women (and a few men) protesting an abortion bill that opponents say restricts access to safe abortions. But he did stop by this afternoon with a plate of chocolate chip cookies.
McCrory was flanked by four security guards as he came out of the mansion gates. Before stepping onto common ground with the protesters – he went as far as the middle of the street between his mansion and the vigil – McCrory pointed directly at Jamie Sohn, a Chapel Hill resident.
“I was like, 'Me?' and he nodded,” she said during an interview shortly after.
The security guards stopped incoming traffic. Sohn walked out into the street to meet McCrory.
Sohn said McCrory told her: “ 'These are for you. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you.' " He handed her the plate of cookies, and waved as he walked away. She said she was too stunned to say anything back. (That's Sohn looking surprised in the photo above which was snapped by Irene Godinez.)
No one knew if the cookies were homemade – the protesters didn’t sample any before returning them. They slipped them under the mansion’s gate, along with a note that read: “We want women’s health care, not cookies.”
McCrory's gesture was — considering his decision to sign the bill Monday — seen as a bit condescending by those present, who came up with an off-the-cuff chant: "Hey Pat, that was rude. You wouldn't give cookies to a dude."
The governor's communications director, Kim Genardo, responded to questions about the cookies in an email: "Sometimes a plate of cookies is just a plate of cookies."
Sohn said she saw McCrory on Monday, as well, after he signed Senate Bill 353, the abortion bill, into law. She said he came out onto the mansion balcony and waved, while the women and men holding the 12-hour vigil shouted “shame” and “liar.”
Planned Parenthood supporters had planned for today's vigil to last until 10 p.m., but they cut it short, ending around 2:30 p.m. Today the women wore dresses styled after a TV show set in the 1960s, “Mad Men,” a nod to their perception that Republican policies are outdated and misogynistic.
From here on out, Planned Parenthood will focus on registering voters across the state, and getting people to speak out, said Paige Johnson, Planned Parenthood of Central N.C.'s vice president of external affairs.
"The legislators that have pushed through in a shameless way this restriction on women's health, we're going to make sure they feel it in their backyard," she said.
Staff writers Annalise Frank and Mary Cornatzer