North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed a 12-week abortion ban on Saturday. But the Republican supermajority in the state legislature, which has the power to override Cooper’s veto, matters a lot.
Cooper signed the veto at a rally in Raleigh surrounded by doctors, fellow Democrats and other pro-choice advocates.
“We’ve heard Republican lawmakers claim this bill is a mainstream compromise,” Cooper told the crowd, which included gynecologists on stage. “Let me tell you this: Mainstream bills are not written in secret, kept under wraps, introduced in the dark of night, protected from public scrutiny, protected from change, and then rushed through in less than 48 hours. ”
After Republicans pushed the abortion ban through the Legislature in just 48 hours, Cooper said traveled to several swing districts on an aggressive press tour to defend his veto. The governor, who supports abortion rights, hosted a series of roundtables on reproductive health and the impact a 12-week abortion ban would have on North Carolina residents.
“If only a Republican follows his conscience, if only a Republican finds courage, if only a Republican listens to doctors, if only a Republican is not afraid to stand up to political bosses, if only a Republican keeps his word.” people, then we can stop this ban,” Cooper said at the rally.
Republicans drafted the abortion ban behind closed doors and unveiled it earlier this month to the surprise of many voters across 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.
The ban was passed by the House (71-46 votes) and Senate (29-20 votes) less than 48 hours after Republicans introduced the bill. Four MEPs were absent from the vote; two Democrats and one Republican in the House of Representatives and one Republican in the Senate.
Cooper, who has vetoed several anti-abortion laws in the past, is now in jeopardy since Rep. Tricia Cotham switched parties and handed the GOP a critical, veto-proof supermajority. Cotham had been an advocate for abortion rights throughout her tenure in Parliament, and earlier this year she was too was co-sponsor of a bill to codify abortion protection together with their fellow Democrats at the time. She voted to pass the 12-week abortion ban.
Democrats only need one Republican in the House or Senate to vote against the ban and maintain Cooper’s veto power.
“Ted Davis, Michael Lee, John Bradford and Tricia Cotham have pledged to protect women’s reproductive freedom. They still have time to keep their promises,” Cooper said tweeted shortly after lawmakers passed the ban.
Republicans keep claiming they have the votes for a veto-proof supermajority. It’s unclear what the two Republicans who were absent from the first vote will do.
Should the restriction actually become law, it would have devastating effects in North Carolina and the surrounding area. The state of Tar Heel has emerged as a safe haven for abortion treatments since Roe v. Wade was overthrown last year after more than a dozen Southern and Midwest states enacted near-total abortion bans. The state has seen one 37% increase in abortions since last June – the highest percentage increase of any state.
The 12-week abortion ban comes with a number of other restrictions, including requiring patients to attend two in-person visits to the clinic, a 72-hour waiting period, and several restrictions on medical abortions.
The law also aims to impose new licensing requirements on abortion clinics, which could result in the closure of some abortion clinics. There are 14 abortion clinics in the state, meaning 91% of counties have no clinic.
There are exceptions for rape and incest up to 20 weeks gestation and an exception for fatal fetal abnormalities up to 24 weeks gestation. The bill also provides an exception for the life of the pregnant person and clarifies that the removal of an ectopic pregnancy does not count as a voluntary abortion. The bill stipulates that any abortion performed after the 12-week period 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.