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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said a 12-week abortion ban passed by the state’s legislature would effectively ban “many abortions altogether.”
The ban is one of the least onerous of a slew of bills Republican-led assemblies have pushed through in recent months since the high court stripped away constitutional protections for abortion. Other states have banned the procedure almost completely or throughout pregnancy.
Nonetheless, the 29-20 party-line vote by the Senate was met with loud cries of “Abortion rights now!” from about 100 observers who had crowded into the gallery to watch the debate. Police quickly cleared the area, but protesters could still be heard shouting “Shame!” from outside the closed doors. The House passed the measure Wednesday night on a similar party-line vote.
According to AP News, state law currently bans nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Starting July 1, the restriction would be tightened to 12 weeks.
It also would place limits on new exceptions, capping abortions at 20 weeks in cases of rape or incest and 24 weeks for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies, including certain physical or genetic disorders that can be diagnosed prenatally.
An existing exception for when the life of the pregnant woman is in danger would remain. North Carolina House bill tightens abortion limits.
“They’ve dressed this up as a 12-week abortion ban, but it’s really not,” the Democratic governor told “Face the Nation,” referring to the state’s Republican lawmakers. “They ran through a bill in 48 hours with no public input, with no amendments, that drastically reduces access to reproductive freedom for women.
“It will effectively ban many abortions altogether, because of the obstacles that they have created for women, for clinics and for doctors.”
Last week, North Carolina lawmakers approved a ban on nearly all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy starting July 1, a change from the current 20 weeks. Cooper has vowed to veto the bill, but Republicans have a veto-proof majority in both chambers.
The ban limits abortions to 20 weeks in cases of rape or incest and 24 weeks for “life-limited” fetal anomalies, including some physical or genetic disorders. There is still an exception for when the life of the mother is in danger.
The bill also has more medical and paperwork requirements for women and physicians, including that women make an in-person visit to a medical professional at least 72 hours before the procedure, according to CBS News. The current law allows the three-day waiting period to begin over the phone. There’s also a requirement for a follow-up visit for women who have a medically-induced abortion, which could be difficult for women who travel from out of state to North Carolina.
“For medication abortions, the bill specifically limits it to 10 weeks,” Cooper said Sunday. “With more requirements put on clinics that are already strained with four-week backlogs of people — North Carolina has become an access point in the Southeast — and what this legislation is going to do is going to prevent many women from getting abortions at any time during their pregnancy because of the obstructions that they had put here.”
Cooper said “many” abortion clinics in the state “are going to have to close” because of the new requirements.
When asked how he planned to stop Republicans from overriding his veto, CBS News reports he said just one Republican needs to keep their campaign promise.
“At least four Republican legislators made promises to their constituents during this campaign that they were going to protect women’s reproductive freedom,” he said. “They only have a supermajority by one vote in the Senate and one vote in the House.”
Cooper said he planned to go to Republican-led districts this week to educate constituents on what the bill does.
“We’re not going to let them disguise this thing is something reasonable when it’s not,” he said.