North Carolina Abortion Veto in the Balance

( – North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoed a recent bill banning most abortions after the first trimester, but he may have his action overridden.

The legislature in North Carolina is controlled by Republicans, who passed the restrictions. The Senate was gearing up to plan the override on May 16th. Gov. Cooper had vetoed the bill just the weekend before while he was traveling the state urging Republican lawmakers to uphold his veto.

Cooper put his attention on four legislators, including one Senator and three House members, who he said had promised to safeguard women’s ability to get abortions. One of these was newly minted Republican Rep. Trisha Cotham, whose recent defection from the Democratic Party to the Republican may present Cooper with problems. Cotham’s vote may be the single vote needed to override the gubernatorial veto. 

The bill banning most abortions after three months was decided along party lines, which may indicate there is enough Republican unanimity to override the veto. 

The recent bill puts North Carolina in line with the majority of Western European countries, which restrict most abortions to the first three months of pregnancy. This timeline is seen in Western Europe as reasonable and uncontroversial.

North Carolina Republicans have described the measure as a good compromise in negotiations with Democrats. The bill includes exceptions to the timeline for cases of rape and incest. In those cases, abortions would be legal through the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. In addition, abortions through 24 weeks would be legal if there are “life-limiting” fetal defects.

Cooper disagrees. He said the 47-page bill has a number of details that make it an unacceptable compromise, and he believes it will chip away at women’s access to abortion. He said the state’s current abortion laws are important for North Carolina women, but also for women from other states who come to North Carolina when they cannot legally abort in their home states.

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