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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

North Carolina governor vetoes abortion ban but faces override

Gov. Roy Cooper at a “veto rally” on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., May 12, 2023. Cooper, vetoed a ban on abortion that was passed by the state’s Republican-led legislature. The bill prohibited abortion past 12 weeks, with some exceptions for rape, incest or to preserve the life and health of the mother. (Kate Medley/The New York Times)

By Kate Kelly

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a ban on abortion Saturday that was passed by the state’s Republican-led Legislature. The bill prohibited abortion past 12 weeks, with some exceptions for rape, incest or to preserve the life and health of the mother.

The veto by Cooper, a Democrat, sets him up for a showdown with the Legislature, which now has a slim Republican supermajority. That means it has the power to override his veto and enact the ban, if the party can muster enough votes.

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday morning in Raleigh for Cooper’s “veto rally” to watch him sign as a way to call attention to his fight with Republicans.

“Standing in the way of progress right now is this Republican supermajority Legislature that only took 48 hours to turn the clock back 50 years,” Cooper said. The crowd around him chanted, “Veto! Veto!”

Abortion is currently legal in North Carolina up to 20 weeks. A 12-week ban would dramatically cut abortion access.

The ban would stand to have an impact well outside of the state. North Carolina has become a haven for women across the South who are seeking abortions and whose home states have banned the procedure. North Carolina had one of the biggest upticks in out-of-state abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion last year.

The bill is a consequential test of power of the Republican Legislature’s new supermajority, achieved when a Democratic House member, Tricia Cotham, joined the Republican Party last month. A few weeks later, she voted in favor of the abortion ban in an apparent change of heart on the issue.

The 12-week ban is not as restrictive as other bans enacted in conservative states since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Many states have banned most abortions at any stage of pregnancy or after six weeks, before most women even know they are pregnant.

The North Carolina ban that Cooper vetoed allows a larger window, and broader exceptions. Most abortions take place within the first trimester, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Republicans in North Carolina have pitched the 12-week ban as a compromise.

Republican Sen. Phil Berger said Saturday that the bill was “a mainstream approach to limiting elective abortions.”

But those who support abortion rights say the bill would be disastrous for women’s health because of other barriers it creates, such as longer waiting periods, more in-person doctor visits and restrictions on who can provide abortions.

Republicans in the House and Senate are expected to hold votes to override the governor’s veto in the coming days.

Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore promised a swift override of Cooper’s veto. That override would most likely require the vote of every elected Republican, which is not assured.

Cooper has spent days campaigning around the state asking residents to pressure several Republican lawmakers who are viewed as movable on the issue to vote against the override.

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