North Carolina governor vetoes 12-week abortion ban, faces override

sonogram fetus A sonogram picture of a fetus in the second trimester of a woman's pregnancy | Shutterstock

North Carolina’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation passed by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature that would ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The veto puts the ball back in the lawmakers’ court, where Republicans enjoy a narrow supermajority — an override of the governor’s veto would require the vote of every Republican in the Legislature. The current law bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Exceptions listed in the bill would establish a 20-week cutoff in cases of rape and incest and a 24-week cutoff for life-threatening fetal anomalies. The law would keep in place an exception for when the life of the mother is at risk.

Cooper signed the veto during a Saturday rally in which he criticized the abortion ban and urged at least one Republican to vote against the override effort. He traveled the state over the past week and held events in the districts of four potentially vulnerable Republicans in the hope of swaying one of them.

“Let’s be clear — this bill has nothing to do with making women safer, and everything to do with banning abortion,” Cooper said during the rally. “How about we leave medicine to the doctors and the decisions to the women?”

Republican leaders have accused the governor of misinforming voters about the bill and indicated their intent to override his veto.

“Gov. Cooper has spent the last week actively feeding the public lies about Senate Bill 20 and bullying members of the General Assembly,” Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. “He has been doing everything he can, including wasting taxpayer money on poorly attended events, to avoid talking about his own extreme views on abortion. I look forward to promptly overriding his veto.”

Lawmakers can begin the override process as soon as this week.

In addition to banning abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy, the proposed law would establish a waiting period for abortions, which would require women to have an in-person visit with a doctor or health professional 72 hours before the abortion is performed and provide informed consent.

For a chemical, or drug-induced, abortion, the new law would require that the woman receive the first dose of the abortion-inducing drug in the presence of a physician after the 72-hour waiting period. The law would also require that doctors make an effort to have a follow-up appointment at about seven to 14 weeks after the abortion is completed to address potential complications, such as bleeding.

The legislation also includes funding to support families. The bill would provide eight weeks of paid parental leave to teachers and other state employees. It also includes about $180 million in funding for a variety of initiatives, which includes increased access to child care, support for foster care, and access to birth control.

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