North Carolina advances veto-proof abortion ban to governor’s desk


North Carolina’s Republican-controlled state Senate on Thursday passed legislation that would ban most abortions after 12 weeks.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has vowed to veto the bill, but the GOP supermajority in the legislature can override it.

The state House had advanced the measure in a party-line vote earlier this week.

Cooper has previously said he plans to veto the “extreme” legislation, but if all members vote along party lines, North Carolina’s Republican state legislators have enough votes in both chambers to override any veto from Cooper.

North Carolina Republicans gained a veto-proof supermajority last month then-Democratic state Rep. Tricia Cotham switched parties. Cotham, who campaigned in favor of abortion rights as a Democrat, voted for the bill. She also sponsored legislation earlier this session to codify Roe v. Wade.

In March, the state legislature overrode the governor’s veto on a bill that now makes it legal to purchase a gun without a permit in the state.

Cooper, in a statement on Twitter Wednesday, said he would veto “this extreme ban.” “Don’t let this so called 12 week abortion ban fool you. It will effectively ban access to reproductive freedom earlier and sometimes altogether for many women because of the restrictions and requirements. This is why Republicans are ramming it through with no chance to amend.”

CNN has reached out to Cooper’s office and the state House speaker’s office for comment.

Senate Bill 20, dubbed the “Care for Women, Children and Families Act,” would ban any licensed physician from performing surgical abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy. It would provide exceptions in the case of rape and incest through 20 weeks of pregnancy or in the event of a “life-limiting anomaly” through 24 weeks. Under the bill, the procedure could be performed by a physician if a doctor determines an abortion is necessary to avert death – “not including psychological or emotional conditions.”

Under current state law, abortions are legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. A reduction to 12 weeks would be significant but less restrictive than some other GOP-led states that have recently enacted six-week or near-total bans on the procedure.

Additionally, the bill would prohibit any health care provider who objects to abortion “on moral, ethical, or religious grounds” from being required to participate in medical procedures that would result in an abortion.

“The refusal of a physician, nurse, or health care provider to perform or participate in these medical procedures shall not be a basis for damages for the refusal or for any disciplinary or any other recriminatory action against the physician, nurse, or health care provider,” it states.

It also calls for in-person examination by physicians seeking to prescribe or administer abortion-inducing drugs and would prohibit people within the state from mailing such drugs to a pregnant woman. The bill would mandate that doctors confirm that the “probable gestational age” of a fetus is no more than ten weeks, before they can sign off on a medication abortion.

This comes as a legal battle over mifepristone, one drug used in many nonsurgical abortions, looms over the US Supreme Court. North Carolina’s proposed legislation also includes significant new penalties for doctors who do not adhere to the new rules.

North Carolina had been a haven for women seeking abortion care as Southern states tightened restrictions after the Supreme Court sent the issue of abortion rights back to the states.

Democratic leaders across the state had spoken out against the bill and, like Cooper, said it was too extreme.

US Rep. Deborah Ross said the bill was “extreme and out of touch with the needs of women and the will of the people” of the Tar Heel state.

The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America has praised the legislation, saying it will “lessen abortion tourism in the state.”

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