N.C. General Assembly overrides abortion bill veto

N.C. General Assembly overrides abortion bill veto
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 5:22 PM EDT|Updated: May. 16, 2023 at 8:41 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The N.C. General Assembly voted to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 20 on Tuesday, May 16.

Officially titled the “Care for Women, Children, and Families Act,” the bill would outlaw most abortions after 12 weeks. Abortions would be allowed through the 20th week in cases of rape or incest, and through the 24th week in the case of medical emergencies or a “life-limiting anomaly” in the fetus.

Overriding a veto requires 60 percent of the legislature in each chamber to vote in favor of the override. The Senate voted 30-20 to override the bill, while the NC House of Representatives voted 72-48.

Governor Cooper released the following statement after the overridden veto:

“Strong majorities of North Carolinians don’t want right-wing politicians in the exam room with women and their doctors, which is even more understandable today after several Republican lawmakers broke their promises to protect women’s reproductive freedom.

“For the last two weeks, Republican sponsors of this abortion ban have strenuously argued that it is much less restrictive than we warned, so we will now do everything in our power to make sure that’s true.

“North Carolinians now understand that Republicans are unified in their assault on women’s reproductive freedom and we are energized to fight back on this and other critical issues facing our state. I will continue doing everything I can to protect abortion access in North Carolina because women’s lives depend on it.”

Rep. Ted Davis previously said during a forum hosted by Port City Daily, WECT and WHQR last October that he supported the current law. When asked Tuesday morning, he said he is “still looking at the pros and cons.”

Rep. Ted Davis released a statement addressing criticism of his vote to override the veto:

During the 2022 election campaign, I stated that I supported the current abortion law in NC and I would vote to keep it as it was. I did not specifically “promise” anything. In discussing SB20 with my Republican Caucus, every other Republican member said they would vote for the Bill. When SB20 came to the House floor for a vote, I was not present. By not voting for SB20 I did what I said and did not vote to change the present law. By not voting against SB20 I did not go against my fellow Caucus members.

“I view the veto as a separate procedural matter. The vote on SB20 had already occurred and that ship had sailed. So, you either vote to support the Governor’s veto action or vote not to support his veto action. When I came to Raleigh, it was suggested that when I considered a particular item, I vote my conscience, then my constituents, then my Caucus.

“As to my conscience, I cannot support the Governor in view of all the bullying and pressure he tried to put on me to vote his way, and never once talking to me personally about it. That also included the Facebook posts, newspaper ads, and TV ads by Planned Parenthood to try to bully and pressure me to vote to sustain the veto.

“As to my constituents, I have received in excess of 5,000 emails, texts, and telephone calls concerning this matter, some of which were very nasty and disrespectful. My Legislative Assistant and I have done the best that we could to determine which came from my constituents, which are those who live and vote in House District 20. That was basically 50% to support the veto and 50% to override the veto.

“As for my Caucus, I knew that everyone other than me was going to vote for the override and I was not going to turn my back on my fellow Caucus members.

“For those reasons, I voted for the override.

“I cannot begin to tell you the pressure that I have been under concerning the vote on the veto override. It has been said that I made all kinds of promises, which I never made. It has been said that I will never be re-elected and people will work hard to see that this does not happen if I voted for the override, but I am not intimidated by these comments. It has been said that my various appropriation requests would be granted if I voted for the override. It has been said that I would get a new more favorable Legislative District and new Committee appointments if I voted for the override. All of these are false and I am so disappointed that people would stoop so low to try to get me to vote a certain way.

The rules would add informed consent provisions, including various information about abortions, a real-time view of the fetus, and a private right of action against a physician who “coerced or misled” before the abortion.

“But I will tell you that in my op-ed, I said that I believe that abortion should be an elective procedure in the first trimester. I said that there should be exceptions for rape, incest, health of a mother, and that’s what this bill does,” Sen. Michael Lee of New Hanover County said.

“Some of your own daughters have told you to stick with what you know, and leave their decisions to them and their doctor,” Sen. Gladys Robinson of Guilford County said.

The bill would also add $3.5 million in recurring funds for the 2023-2025 fiscal years for competitive grants for reversible, long-acting contraceptive drugs or devices. Another $2.8 million in the same period for both fiscal years would go towards paying additional Medicare benefits for pregnancy care.

“If you consider the economic loss of HB2 estimated at $500,000,000 a year or so, the fallout from this bill is likely to dwarf that number. Because this regressive law will affect every single woman in this state for the entirety of her reproductive life,” Rep. Deb Butler of New Hanover County said.

“Senate Bill 20 makes medical sense. And Senate Bill 20 is common sense. It balances protecting the life of the unborn child. It balances that with a woman’s need for life-saving care,” Rep. Kristin Baker of Cabarrus County said.

The new law will take effect as of July 1.

“Today marks the beginning of North Carolina’s first real step towards becoming a pro-life state as the ‘Care for Women, Children and Families Act’ becomes law of the land. Pro-life North Carolinians have waited over 50 years to roll back the gestational age for sanctioned killing of pre-born children. With this veto override, legislators have rejected Governor Cooper’s extreme, unreasonable position of abortion without restriction up to birth. This pro-woman legislation has $160 million in funding to help pregnant mothers including $75 million for childcare, $59 million for foster care, kinship care and children’s homes, $16 million to reduce infant and maternal mortality, and $3 million to help mothers complete college. We sincerely thank Senator Berger, Speaker Moore, and Republican legislators for standing strong and voting on behalf of the 62% of North Carolinians who reject abortion after 12 weeks. As we look forward to the 2024 election cycle, NC Values will continue to find and support candidates who support life, and who are not for sale to the billion-dollar abortion industry,” NC Values Coalition Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald said in a response to the veto override.

“This bill is about controlling women and taking away their freedoms. And they are not done yet. They will keep coming until they completely ban abortion in every instance. We can’t let them. So, despite this defeat, we will keep fighting at every turn. Our freedoms are too important to ever give up,” Attorney General Josh Stein wrote in a statement.

“For nearly a year, we have been in a public health crisis that has left over one in three American women without control of their reproductive lives,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president & CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a press release. “Today’s vote will have devastating consequences across North Carolina, and for the thousands of patients in the region who’ve relied on the state as a key access point for abortion. This ban, like all abortion bans, will harm people who have the right to make their own decisions based on what is best for themselves, their lives, their families, and their futures. No one should be forced to travel out of state to access abortion care. No one should be forced to carry a pregnancy that they do not want, or that is dangerous to their health. And yet, today that is what the North Carolina legislature is forcing them to do. Planned Parenthood will continue fighting for everyone’s ability to access the health care they need and deserve — no matter what.”

“The battleground state of North Carolina has taken a major step forward in the fight for life. By defying Gov. Cooper’s bully tactics and standing for the will of the people, the General Assembly modeled great courage on the issue of life. Elected officials and candidates across this country should take note how pro-life leaders stood up to the extreme abortion agenda of the Democrats to protect life and serve mothers. North Carolinians reject elective painful, late-term abortion and Americans feel the same. According to multiple polls, around two-thirds of Americans want to limit abortion to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy. Americans value protecting babies in the womb who feel pain, suck their thumbs, make facial expressions and smile,” SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser stated.

The full bill text is available on the General Assembly website.