In early May, Republicans in North Carolina passed a stringent new abortion bill. This is notable because, unlike other states where the Republican Party controls the legislature, North Carolina has a Democratic governor who opposes the legislation. After a contentious battle between the two sides, the ban is set to become law.
On May 13, Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, used his veto power to reject Senate Bill 20, which seeks to reduce the time frame for obtaining an abortion in the state from 20 weeks to 12 weeks. The bill also mandates that women seeking the procedure must have an in-person consultation with a doctor at least 72 hours before undergoing the abortion. However, there are exceptions in the bill for certain fetal abnormalities, cases where the mother’s life is at risk, instances of incest, and incidents of rape. Additionally, women who choose to have a medication-induced abortion will be required to consult with a physician to confirm that the gestational age of the fetus is less than 10 weeks.
The extreme abortion ban has been vetoed.— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) May 13, 2023
Let’s work to keep it that way. pic.twitter.com/wan9W5z6fF
Following his veto, Governor Cooper released a statement criticizing the bill as a “dangerous interference with the doctor-patient relationship” that could potentially harm women and their families. He argued that the legislation would significantly limit access to the procedure, particularly for women with low incomes and those residing in rural regions, thereby disproportionately impacting these groups.
A few days later, on May 16, Republicans successfully voted to override the governor’s veto. The Republican Party holds a three-fifths supermajority in both chambers, enabling them to narrowly pass the override.
The ability to override the governor’s veto in the House became possible when Representative Tricia Cotham switched her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, thereby providing the GOP with the required supermajority. Governor Cooper strongly criticized the move, accusing conservatives of betraying their commitment to safeguarding women’s reproductive rights.
Gov. Cooper Statement on Republican vote to override SB20 veto: pic.twitter.com/Kh06weg4zQ— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) May 17, 2023
Following the successful override by the legislature, four female Republican senators in North Carolina, namely Lisa Barnes, Vickie Sawyer, Joyce Krawiec, and Amy Galey, released a joint statement commending their fellow lawmakers. They described the action as a significant milestone for women, children, and families in the state. Furthermore, they asserted that the Republican Party’s ban on abortion values and prioritizes motherhood while also preserving the lives of unborn children.
The newly passed law is scheduled to take effect on July 1.