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NC Legislature Overrides Gov. Cooper's Veto, Making 12-Week Abortion Ban the Law

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

In a post-Dobbs v. Jackson world, states are considering abortion legislation at an increasing rate. The latest includes North Carolina, where the state legislature on Tuesday night overrode a veto on a 12-week abortion ban from Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC). North Carolina is a particularly interesting case as the state "experienced a greater spike in abortions than any other state" in the first two months after Dobbs fell, according to The Washington Post. 


The new law, S.B. 20, the Care for Women, Children, and Families Act, also provides funding of foster care programs, as well as paid family leave and pregnancy resource centers. It's set to go into effect on July 1, 2023. 

Madeline had previously covered how the state legislature passed the bill earlier this month. While Cooper was expected to veto the bill, overriding his veto was likely but not necessarily certain. Republicans could only afford to lose one member. The bill was able to become law, though, thanks to members who refused to budge, including Rep. Tricia Cotham, who last month switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP, as Madeline also highlighted.

While Cotham had been targeted for helping to override the veto despite her previous support for abortion, it is more accurate to point out she has evolved on the issue in favor of supporting life as well as commonsense abortion restrictions.


Cotham was just one of many state legislators from around the country who switched from being a Democrat to a Republican. Her party-change provided Republicans with a veto-proof majority. 

Cooper had called the bill "extreme," a common refrain heard from pro-abortion politicians and activists for just about any proposal that restricts abortion in any way. He also claimed when speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper that the bill didn't have public support from North Carolinians. 

Such claims are not quite accurate, though. Especially before Roe v. Wade was overturned with the Dobbs decision, the United States has been the extreme one—an outlier even—by allowing elective abortions so late into pregnancy. In Europe, most countries restrict abortion after 12 weeks, which is the duration of the first trimester. 

The law won't actually affect a majority of abortions there. Students for Life Action's coverage from earlier this month when the bill passed noted they were "disappointed" as it "recklessly allows abortions up to 12-weeks." According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 88 percent of abortions for residents in 2020 took place before 12 weeks. 


"While the 12-week bill provides some support for the preborn in North Carolina, we’ll be back for the 90% of babies left unprotected in this measure,” said Dustin Curtis, SFLAction Vice President of Political Affairs & Operations in a statement from Tuesday. “The Governor and Members supporting his veto showed their voters that even three months into pregnancy isn’t extreme enough to commit abortion. Thankfully our efforts in the legislative elections helped bring a veto-proof majority to the legislature and some reasonable protections will be afforded for the preborn of this state."

Further, a survey from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America showed that 62 percent of all voters support laws that would limit abortions with exceptions for rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother in North Carolina to the first trimester of pregnancy or earlier. Such findings were highlighted in a column for Townhall earlier this month, co-authored by the group's president, Marjorie Dannenfelser. 

In addition to peddling false narratives about the bill, the governor made a tremendous show of vetoing the bill, which he did on May 13. As part of his Saturday rally, Cooper appeared with pro-abortion activists. A report from The Carolina Journal highlighted how Planned Parenthood of North Carolina is a major donor to state Democrats, and has spent nearly $10 million in elections there since 2016. 


Cooper also appeared to bully pro-life constituents about the bill ahead of the veto override. As The Carolina Journal mentioned, with added emphasis:

Gov. Roy Cooper has pulled out the political stops in the days since S.B. 20, the Care for Women, Children, and Families Act, passed the N.C. General Assembly on May 4. Ahead of vetoing the bill, Cooper traveled to swing Republican districts to pressure lawmakers through their constituents, but did not attempt to meet with the lawmakers directly. On Saturday, Cooper and his abortion-access activists organized a veto rally to celebrate. He signed and stamped the veto to cheers and shouts from the audience on Bicentennial Mall.


[State Rep. John] Bradford was targeted again by Democrats just last week. He is one of four Republicans who Gov. Roy Cooper spent time and effort to pressure over the last 10 days to uphold his veto. Cooper visited Bradford’s district and met with constituents about S.B. 20. Cooper also visited districts for former Democrat-turned-Republican state Rep. Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg; Sen. Mike Lee, R-New Hanover; and Sen. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover.


Pro-abortion activists were not the only ones who made their voices heard. Students for Life Action featured a blog post from Dana Stancavage, who spoke to her experience of how "More Than 150 Pro-Lifers Rallied in North Carolina to Oppose Governor Cooper’s Veto."

Cooper had also vetoed a bill to protect babies born alive from abortions in 2019, though the legislature failed to override that veto. 

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