North Carolina GOP Sets New Course for Abortion Law: 12-Week Limit Passes Despite Veto

by Joshua Brown
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In North Carolina, a new law was passed by the Republican politicians that bans abortions after twelve weeks of pregnancy. The Democratic governor vetoed it but Republicans in the state’s General Assembly still managed to get it signed into law.

The House of Representatives voted by a majority on Tuesday to uphold the law which was opposed by Governor Roy Cooper. Since 3/5th of the members voted in favour, this became a big victory for the Republican party leaders who managed to get all their members on board.

Last week, Governor Cooper tried to get at least one Republican to agree with his decision of not allowing a special measure to pass. However, even though Cooper traveled all around the state trying to make this happen, four Republicans did not support him – including someone who had recently changed from being a Democrat. Therefore, they voted for this measure to be approved in the end.

Republicans proposed a new law that would partially ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. At the same time, lawmakers in South Carolina and Nebraska are discussing their own laws about abortion which would limit access to it. North Carolina and South Carolina were two of the only Southern states that still have easy access to abortion.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court changed how abortions were previously allowed across the United States. This Tuesday, in South Carolina, legislators are gonna vote on a bill which would basically outlaw abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy – that’s usually before women even realize they’re pregnant! Before this vote however, the South Carolina state Senate said no to a similar proposal.

In 14 different states, it is illegal to have an abortion in any stage of pregnancy. This is especially true for the Southern half of the United States, where abortions are fully banned in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. In Georgia you can only legally perform an abortion during the first six weeks of the pregnancy.

If you are looking to have an abortion, the best places to go are the Carolinas, Florida and Virginia. However, if you live in Florida, keep in mind that abortions cannot take place after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law is trying to make it 6 weeks instead. If these states don’t work for you, head west and try visiting Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico or Colorado – as they will likely offer more options.

If both North Carolina and South Carolina make abortion illegal, it would be a very bad thing for people who need abortions. Jamie Lockhart from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia said so on Tuesday.

On the same day, after the vote about abortion access in North Carolina’s House chamber was over, people who wanted to keep abortions legal got mad. They shouted “Shame!” and had to leave the room because of police officers standing by.

People weren’t happy after the North Carolina Senate debate. In fact, some pro-life demonstrators were actually happy with how it ended even though it wasn’t received well by everyone else. Tami Fitzgerald, the person in charge of a socially conservative group called the North Carolina Values Coalition said, “This is the first step towards making North Carolina a state that supports life.”

Senate Republicans said Cooper didn’t use $160 million set aside for the measure. This money was meant to help people prevent unplanned pregnancies, keep babies and mothers safe and healthy, and give state employees and teachers paid time off after welcoming a baby.

Rep. Kristin Baker, who is a Republican from Cabarrus County and also works as a psychiatrist, said that this bill will offer support to the pregnant woman. It will give her access to different resources and the right information which in turn can help her in making decisions regarding herself and her unborn baby’s future.

Beginning on July 1, there are new rules regarding having an abortion. These rules allow for people to have abortions if they were raped or had incest at any point up until 20 weeks of the pregnancy. There’s also an exception if the baby has a serious condition that could mean it wouldn’t survive outside the womb after 24 weeks into the pregnancy. Finally, you’re still allowed to have an abortion if your life is in danger due to the pregnancy.

Democrats don’t like these new limits and think it will make it harder and more dangerous for pregnant people who want or need abortions.

Rep. Julie Von Haefen, a Wake County Democrat, said that women don’t need anyone’s approval to make decisions about their bodies and health care. Governor Cooper also agreed and said that he will keep doing his best to make sure women have access to abortion in North Carolina because it is a matter of life or death for them.

Karine Jean-Pierre, who is the Press Secretary of The White House, said that a new law will make it even harder for females to access the healthcare they need. This law was able to become official due to Tricia Cotham from Mecklenburg County changing her political party from the GOP (a Republican Party) last month, thus giving Republicans majority numbers in both chambers of Parliament.

Cotham has been in favor of abortion rights before. She believes that the new bill they proposed is something even people who don’t have extreme opinions about abortion can agree with.

In South Carolina, there was a disagreement between House and Senate members last fall when it came to passing a law regarding abortion. The House wanted almost all abortions to be banned while the Senate only wanted a ban around six weeks.

Recently, a law that made it illegal to have an abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy was stopped by the state Supreme Court. That means now abortions are allowed for the first 22 weeks of pregnancy. Some people, especially Republicans, don’t like this and they are thinking about creating another law which would make it illegal again. This new rule would ban abortions when an ultrasound can see the baby’s heart beating, which is usually around 6 weeks into pregnancy.

It’s going to take a while until late at night for an important measure to get approved by the House even though Republicans put some rules in place that limit talking about it. The speaker of the House, Murrell Smith, said they won’t leave until it is passed. Democrats are trying to slow down the process and making sure that everyone talks about their ideas for three minutes each. They’ve also been forcing extra votes on procedures.

In Nebraska on Tuesday, some conservative people in the legislature got enough votes to put an abortion ban into another law which would not allow minors to get medical treatment for gender identity.

The Capitol rotunda was full of protesters who were making lots of noise by chanting, shouting and stomping their feet during the debate.

The plan got the 33 votes it needed in the state’s single-body, non-partisan legislature to finish discussing and start other voting steps. This plan could pass as soon as Thursday after one last round of voting.

In Montana, the Governor named Greg Gianforte just signed a law that makes it illegal to do an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Planned Parenthood doesn’t like this law and wants a judge to stop it from happening.

On Wednesday, a court is going to decide if the abortion drug mifepristone should be allowed. It currently is, but a judge from Texas said that it shouldn’t be after overruling two decades of approval from science experts. However, during this appeal process, people are allowed to still take it as usual.

The people making the decision about the case are three judges. They have made decisions before that make it harder for someone to have an abortion. We don’t know what the judges will decide yet.

Lavoie was reporting from Richmond, Virginia. James Pollard and Jeffrey Collins were writers from Columbia, South Carolina, Geoff Mulvihill from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Amy Beth Hanson from Helena, Montana and Sarah Rankin from Richmond too. Schoenbaum and Pollard are part of a special program called Report for America which helps journalists to report about issues not widely spoken about.

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