N.C. governor vows to veto abortion ban following swift passage in Senate

Republicans plan to use supermajority in both chambers to override veto

North Carolina Govenor Roy Cooper has vowed to strike down a new abortion ban passed by the state Senate this week, although lawmakers have said they would override his veto. Photo by Grant Baldwin/UPI
North Carolina Govenor Roy Cooper has vowed to strike down a new abortion ban passed by the state Senate this week, although lawmakers have said they would override his veto. Photo by Grant Baldwin/UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has threatened to veto a bill passed Thursday by the Republican-controlled Senate that would ban most abortions in the state after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The Senate voted 29-20 to approve the Care for Women, Children, and Families Act a day after the House also passed it on party lines, while Cooper -- a Democrat -- vowed earlier in the week to shoot down the measure if it reached his desk.


"It will effectively ban access to reproductive freedom earlier and sometimes altogether for many women because of new restrictions and requirements," Cooper posted to Twitter. "This is why Republicans are ramming it through with no chance to amend. I will veto this extreme ban and need everyone's help to hold it."

That would send the bill back to the legislature, where Republican leaders in the House and Senate have announced their intention to override the governor's veto.


The measure passed both chambers of the state legislature 48 hours after the House bill was introduced on Tuesday, with all Senate GOP members unified in support, while every Democrat voted to reject it.

The outcome was noteworthy as former Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham voted in favor of the measure, which gives Republicans the slim three-fifths majority they would need to override Cooper's veto.

The bill would make all abortions illegal after 12 weeks of pregnancy, whereas current state law allows up to 20 weeks for the procedure.

Across the country, GOP-led states have enacted increasing health restrictions following the repeal of Roe vs. Wade last June, in which the Supreme Court barred the constitutional right to an abortion.

Some Republican legislatures, like Florida's, have moved to ban abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy. Abortions, however, remain legal in many other states that have not moved to change existing laws.

The North Carolina bill contains a provision that will still allow victims of rape or incest to receive abortions up to 20 weeks, and up to 24 weeks in cases where doctors diagnose a life-threatening condition in an unborn child.

There would be no abortion restrictions for women experiencing a medical emergency.


Other patients, however, would face additional obstacles, such as consent requirements, higher medical fees, and in-person doctor visits to receive abortion medications.

The White House issued a statement Thursday in response to the bill, calling the measure "extreme" and suggested the administration might seek recourse through the federal courts.

"The details of this ban have been obscured to make it seem less dangerous, but this bill would make it harder for many women to get the care they need," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. "Since the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe vs. Wade, women have been denied medical care they desperately need in order to preserve their health and even save their lives. They've been turned away from emergency rooms, made to travel hundreds of miles for care, and left with complications that threaten their ability to bear children in the future."

During Thursday's debate on the Senate floor, Democrats also blasted the bill and staged a pseudo-filibuster that extended the session for several hours, with many arguing the new regulations would block many women in the state from receiving critical care.

"These extreme restrictions effectively ban abortion for the majority of women in North Carolina, who don't have access to an OB-GYN in their county or a hospital," said Sen. Sydney Batch, D-Wake. "Senate Bill 20 would have far-reaching consequences beyond women's reproductive rights. We're setting a dangerous precedent for government intervention in our personal lives and our health care decisions."


Despite the opposition, Senate Republicans maintained their stance on the measure.

"Abortion in the third trimester is not just between a woman and her doctor," said state Sen. Amy Galey, R-Alamance, explaining her support for the bill. "There is a baby involved. It is an infant. Yes, it is the role of the law to protect people, and an unborn baby at some point becomes a person."

Aside from the abortion restrictions, the bill includes $32 million to fund childcare facilities and expanded family leave for teachers and state employees.

The bill also includes provisions that would make it a misdemeanor to assault a pregnant woman, and to boost government reimbursements to foster parents.

"I hope my colleagues across the aisle can look past the extremes to see the good this does for women, children, and families," said Sen. Vickie Sawyer, R-Alamance.

But the North Carolina Medical Society issued a statement assailing the bill, arguing it "interferes in the doctor-patient relationship" and would ultimately "impede patient access to medical care."

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