North Carolina Republicans have successfully defeated Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a 12-week abortion ban Tuesday paving the way for the restriction to become law soon.
When lawmakers held a special vote on Tuesday, all Senate Republicans voted in favor of the 12-week abortion ban. 30-20and House of Representatives, 72-48 – affirmative that the state’s Republican supermajority had the power to override Cooper’s veto. All four Republicans that Cooper had eyed as possible swing votes — state Representatives Tricia Cotham, John Bradford, and Ted Davis Jr., and state Senator Michael V. Lee — voted in favor of the abortion ban.
The protesters at the State House immediately began shouting, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” after the override was successful. The Republic leadership has vacated the galley.
The 12-week ban and associated additional restrictions on medical abortions are scheduled to take effect on July 1. Other pieces of legislation are expected to come into force at a different time later this year.
Cotham changed parties Earlier this year, he gave the Republicans their crucial, veto-proof supermajority. The former Democrat was once an outspoken advocate for abortion rights tells her own abortion story on the House floor in an impassioned plea against abortion restrictions in 2015. Earlier this year she was co-sponsor of a bill in response to the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade last summer to codify abortion protections.
cooper vetoed the 12-week abortion ban at a rally in Raleigh over Mother’s Day weekend surrounded by doctors, advocates and fellow Democrats.
“We’ve heard Republican lawmakers claim this bill is a mainstream compromise,” Cooper told the crowd. “Let me tell you this: Mainstream bills are not written in secret, kept under wraps, introduced in the dark of night, protected from public input, protected from amendment, and then rushed through in less than 48 hours. ”
The governor has traveled to several swing districts in recent weeks following the Republicans pushed for the ban on abortion by the legislature in just 48 hours. Cooper, who has been a pro-choice advocate throughout his tenure, hosted a series of reproductive health roundtables and encouraged voters to call their elected officials and ask them to uphold his veto.
During his six-year tenure, Cooper successfully vetoed more than 50 bills.
But Cotham’s change of party and the nationwide spate of anti-election political rhetoric since Roe’s ouster have doomed Cooper and his fellow Democrats. A 12-week abortion ban is likely to have devastating consequences, not just for North Carolina residents but for much of the Southeast as the state has become a safe haven for abortion treatments since the Women’s Health Organization’s Dobbs vs. Jackson decision.
The state has seen one 37% increase in abortions since Roe’s decline — the highest percentage increase of any state. Florida, the state with the second highest increase in abortions since Dobbs, is also advocating a six-week abortion ban, expected to go into effect in July. These restrictions are expected to only create more barriers to healthcare, forcing able-bodied people to travel even further to have abortions and forcing others to continue conceiving unintentionally .
North Carolina Republicans drafted and unveiled the abortion ban behind closed doors earlier this month to the surprise of many voters in the state. Instead of introducing a new law, Republican lawmakers are silent hid the 46-page abortion restriction be converted into an independent legal act. The move allowed anti-abortion lawmakers to bypass the committee process, where most public statements are heard, and go straight to the vote.
“Republicans in the Senate know that talking about abortion is bad for them,” said Senator Sydney Batch (D) said HuffPost On Monday. “They want this to be done as soon as possible. They want this to be overridden and they want it to stop talking about abortion.”
The 12-week abortion ban comes with a host of other restrictions, including a 72-hour waiting period, a ban on medical abortions after 10 weeks, and requiring patients to visit a clinic twice before receiving abortion treatment. There are exceptions for rape and incest up to 20 weeks gestation and an exception for fatal fetal abnormalities up to 24 weeks gestation. There are also exceptions for the life of the pregnant person, and the bill clarifies that removal of an ectopic pregnancy does not count as a voluntary abortion.
The ban requires that any abortion performed after the 12 weeks have passed must be performed in a hospital under the exceptions. It’s worth noting that exceptions to the abortion ban often don’t work in practice and are sometimes a strategy used by anti-election lawmakers to make an extreme bill seem more reasonable.
It is only 14 abortion clinics in North Carolina, meaning 91% of counties don’t have a clinic. And legislation will impose new licensing requirements on abortion clinics, which could result in the closure of some abortion clinics.
“The Republican Party has proven that it won’t stop until every American loses their reproductive freedom — and North Carolina Republicans have shown that once again Republicans cannot be trusted with our rights,” said Heather Williams, interim president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in a statement Tuesday night.
“This move by North Carolina’s Republican majority will affect access to abortion for over 10 million people in the state and will have far-reaching implications across the region and across the country,” Williams added. “State Democrats around the world are resisting this extreme agenda, and Republicans will pay for their attacks on our liberties at the ballot box – just like last ballot.”