North Carolina’s GOP-controlled General Assembly defied the veto of Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, and successfully passed a bill that aims to prohibit the majority of abortions after the 12-week mark.
The measure to override Cooper’s veto required a three-fifths majority in both chambers, which was easily achieved owing to the Republican supermajority. The state House voted 72–48 along party lines after the state Senate voted 30–20.
The North Carolina Republican Party (NCGOP) welcomed the enactment “of this reasonable legislation to protect life after the first trimester in North Carolina.”
In a statement, the NCGOP said Cooper and the Democrats hold a radical position on abortion which they argue is out of step with the values of most North Carolinians.
“The voters of North Carolina have rejected the radical abortion-on-demand position of Roy Cooper, [Attorney General] Josh Stein, and the Democrat Party,” NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley said in a statement.
“I commend our Republican-led General Assembly for overriding Gov. Cooper’s veto of this balanced and widely-supported legislation and moving forward to protect life in North Carolina.”
The Republican supermajority was made possible by state Rep. Tricia Cotham, who made headlines for switching her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
Cotham had campaigned in favor of abortion rights as a Democrat and sponsored a measure to codify Roe v. Wade earlier in the current legislative session. However, she joined Republicans in voting to pass the ban.
In a statement on Tuesday, she defended her vote to support the restrictions, saying she was not on either of the “extreme” ends of the abortion issue spectrum, but instead saw it as a “complicated issue without absolute answers.” She said the bill “strikes a reasonable balance” and “represents a middle ground.”
Before the crucial vote, Cooper had actively called on lawmakers to uphold his veto. However, his hopes were dashed.
“North Carolinians now understand that Republicans are unified in their assault on women’s reproductive freedom, and we are energized to fight back on this and other critical issues,” he said.
Cooper had vetoed the abortion ban on Saturday, soon after the General Assembly swiftly passed the bill.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre expressed frustration with the North Carolina lawmakers who passed the bill, calling it “a dangerous bill that is out of touch” with most of the state’s residents.
She said President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris would continue to work with state legislators and Americans “to restore the protections of Roe for all people in every state.”
Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June last year, Republican and Democrat lawmakers have moved to either restrict or weaken abortion laws.
Some Republican-led legislatures, such as Florida’s, have enacted near-total bans at six weeks, while some Democrat-led legislatures, such as California’s, have allowed abortion to occur up to birth and without requirements to provide care for babies born alive after a failed procedure.
South Carolina House lawmakers are currently in the midst of a lengthy debate over a six-week abortion ban, to which Democrats have filed more than 1,000 amendments.
The legislation, known as the “Care for Women, Children, and Families Act,” enforces a ban on surgical abortions performed by licensed physicians after the 12th week of pregnancy.
This law will become effective on July 1.
However, there are exceptions for cases of rape and incest, which allow abortions until the 20-week mark of pregnancy, as well as for situations involving a “life-limiting anomaly,” which permits abortions until the 24-week mark.
According to the bill, a physician can perform an abortion after the 12-week mark if it is determined to be necessary to prevent the mother’s death, excluding psychological or emotional conditions.
Currently, North Carolina allows abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. While reducing the limit to 12 weeks is a significant change, it is less restrictive compared to some other states governed by the Republican Party, which have recently implemented bans as early as six weeks or near-total bans.
The legislation further grants health care providers the right to refuse participation in abortion procedures on moral, ethical, or religious grounds. It also requires multiple in-person examinations by physicians before prescribing or administering abortion-inducing drugs.
The bill specifically prohibits individuals within the state from mailing such drugs to pregnant women. Furthermore, doctors must confirm that the “probable gestational age” of a fetus is not more than 10 weeks before approving a medication abortion.