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N.C. lawmakers override governor’s veto, enact 12-week abortion ban

North Caroline House Speaker Tim Moore presides over the house on Tuesday (May 16). (Screen capture)

RALEIGH, N.C. (BP) – North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature voted on Tuesday (May 16) to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill banning most abortions in the state after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The party-line vote in both chambers of the General Assembly gave supporters of the bill the three-fifths majority needed to override the governor’s veto. The House of Representatives voted 72-48 to override the veto Tuesday night, after the Senate voted 30-20 in favor of the override earlier in the day. 

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 20 or the “Care for Women, Children, and Families Act,” takes effect July 1. The measure reduces the ban on nearly all abortions in the state from the current limit of 20 weeks down to 12 weeks. The measure also includes exceptions in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomalies and when a mother’s life is in danger.

The legislation also limits access to abortion-inducing drugs and includes several financial measures to support women and families. The measure includes funding for maternity leave, adoption services, foster care, children’s homes and more.

In a statement released after his chamber voted to complete the override, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland, Rutherford) said, “I am proud that the House has overridden the Governor’s veto of this meaningful, mainstream legislation. Senate Bill 20 will save lives and provide needed support for women and families while putting North Carolina’s abortion law in line with the most of [the] rest of the free world.

“Today the North Carolina House of Representatives has affirmed the value of human life, and I am proud that the ‘Care for Women, Children, and Families Act’ is now law.”

In a separate statement, Cooper said that in voting for the override “several Republican lawmakers broke their campaign promises to protect women’s reproductive freedom.” Cooper also vowed to continue to support access to abortion for women. 

“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,” Cooper said. “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.”

Cooper vowed to veto Senate Bill 20 immediately after it passed both chambers of the legislature earlier this month along party lines. The state House passed the measure on May 3, 71-46. One day later on May 4, the bill passed the Senate 29-20 and was sent to Cooper’s desk.

In the week after receiving the bill, Cooper used national television interviews and a series of events held across the state to speak against the bill and try to convince at least one Republican lawmaker to vote to uphold his pending veto. Republican leaders had just enough seats in both chambers to override the veto, but needed every member of the party to vote in favor of the override.

In a social media post after the override vote, Todd Unzicker, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, praised state lawmakers for taking a “bold stand for life.”

“NC lawmakers took a bold stand for life today by overriding @NC_Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 20,” Unzicker wrote. “Thankful for the preborn lives that will be saved because of this legislation and the resources for mothers and families in crisis that it provides.”

Unzicker and Brent Leatherwood, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, sent a joint letter to North Carolina lawmakers last week encouraging them to override Cooper’s veto.