North Carolina’s Republican-majority state legislature will vote today on whether to overturn Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of a 12-week abortion ban. The move could deal a fresh blow to one of the last bastions of abortion access in the south, which has been significantly curtailed after the supreme court overturned Roe v Wade last year.
Cooper, a Democrat, honored a vow he made to North Carolinians to protect reproductive rights by vetoing SB 20 during a public rally in Raleigh on Saturday, which was attended by thousands. But in separate votes today, the state senate and house could override his decision and clear the path to put new restrictions into place.
Last week, Republicans had rushed the bill through the house, drawing criticism from other legislators and abortion rights advocates. The 46-page bill, in addition to banning abortion after 12 weeks, extends the waiting period for people seeking abortions to 72 hours, requires providers to send sensitive information to the state department of health and human services, and requires clinics to obtain special licensing that would result in clinic closures throughout the state.
The new restrictions pose grave concerns for abortion providers, who have already witnessed a sharp uptick in patients traveling to North Carolina for abortion care after Roe v Wade was overturned.
Advocates who foresaw the passage of SB 20 sprang into action in the days following the legislative decision, hoping to sway lawmakers who showed support for reproductive rights in the past, like Tricia Cotham, a representative who handed house Republicans a supermajority after switching parties last month.
In recent days, Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic launched a television ad campaign reminding viewers of Republican state representative Ted Davis’s promise to uphold North Carolina’s 20-week ban.
The group also supported Governor Cooper’s efforts to reach constituents and providers in Mecklenburg, Guilford and New Hanover counties last week during a series of round tables. At each talk, the governor informed constituents about the contents of the bill. Cooper also called out Republican lawmakers in the state who had previously said they would protect abortion access in the state.
One-third of North Carolina patients seeking abortions since the supreme court decision come from outside the state, Planned Parenthood estimates. One report shows the number of people traveling to North Carolina for abortion care spiked by 37% as restrictions tightened in neighboring southern states since last summer. Others show an average increase of 788 patients monthly after the supreme court’s decision.
“All we need is one – one person of conscience,” Cooper said at one round table. “One person who knows that this is wrong and is not afraid to stand up to party leadership.”
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