North Carolina House passes 12-week abortion ban
Republican lawmakers on Wednesday sped up a package of abortion restrictions, further restricting access to abortions in the state by banning the procedure after 12 weeks.
North Carolina’s House of Representatives voted Wednesday night to pass Senate Bill 20, also dubbed by supporters the “Care for Women, Children and Families Act,” which will limit the state’s abortion ban from 20 weeks to 12 weeks. The bill is expected to have a final vote in the Senate on Thursday morning.
The legislation, unveiled Tuesday after months of private negotiations between GOP members of the House and Senate, drew criticism from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Cooper, an abortion rights supporter, said he would fight the measure.
“I will be vetoing this extreme ban and need everyone’s help to uphold it,” Cooper said in a tweet.
But after a house Democrat switched to the Republic Party last month, Republicans now hold a veto-safe majority in both houses of the state general assembly. The Republican majority reflected Wednesday after the abortion law passed 71-46 after an hour of debate.
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Bill includes new exceptions, requirements for pregnant women
North Carolina currently bans almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and the law would reduce that to 12 weeks. The draft law also contains new exceptions and requirements for pregnant women and doctors.
In cases of rape or incestuous abortions, abortions would be banned at 20 weeks and 24 weeks because of “life-limiting” fetal abnormalities, the 46-page measure said. The exception in the case of life-threatening conditions for the pregnant woman would remain in place.
Republican leaders have also proposed spending at least $160 million on programs to improve access to childcare and maternal health care, encourage families to take in foster children, and provide contraception to low-income or uninsured patients. The measure also includes money for eight weeks of paid leave for state employees and teachers after the birth, and four weeks for another new parent.
The legislation also adds other abortion bans that Cooper had successfully vetoed in previous years when Democrats held more seats in Parliament, including banning women from having an abortion because of race or a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Another ban would require health care providers to protect and care for children born alive during a late-term failed abortion.
“Extreme anti-abortion politicians have created a monster by enforcing new restrictions aimed at closing abortion clinics,” Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Jillian Riley told lawmakers.
At least 88% of abortions in North Carolina in 2020 occurred at or before 12 weeks gestation, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services.
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The legislation joins the abortion debate in conservative states
The measure follows a series of abortion restrictions imposed in conservative states after the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade had picked up.
But North Carolina’s law isn’t as restrictive as other policies in GOP-controlled southern states like Tennessee and West Virginia. In April, the North Dakota governor signed legislation banning abortions at all stages of pregnancy, and the Florida governor signed a six-week abortion ban.
Featuring: Christine Fernando, USA TODAY; The Associated Press