A showdown is looming over abortion rights in North Carolina.
Over the weekend, the state’s Democratic governor, Ray Cooper, vetoed a bill that essentially would’ve prohibited just about every abortion in the state after a mother was 12 weeks pregnant. The only exceptions to the law were for instances of incest, rape or if the health and life of the mother were at risk.
Now, the Republicans in the state Legislature that passed the bill are vowing to override the governor’s veto. If the state GOP is able to muster up enough votes to do so, they might be able to still push the bill through into law, since Republicans have a slight supermajority in the North Carolina Legislature.
On Saturday morning, Cooper held a “veto rally” in the state capital of Raleigh. As he told the crowd, which chanted “Veto! Veto!”:
“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.”
As of right now, North Carolina allows abortions to occur up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. So, the new bill would cut back on that timeframe by about two months.
It also wouldn’t just have an effect on women who live in North Carolina, either, as the state has become a haven of sorts for women in the South who want to get abortions but whose resident states have all but banned it in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade landmark decision last summer.
Since that high court ruling was handed down, North Carolina has seen one of the highest increases in abortions from out-of-state residents.
The Republican Party in the state gained the slight supermajority in the legislature just last month when Tricia Cotham, a member of the state House, switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP. Only a few weeks after she did so, she voted in favor of the abortion ban.
Even though the ban on abortions after 12 weeks is a big cut from the current state law, it’s not nearly as restrictive as some of the bans that have been passed in other conservative states. Many that have moved in that direction have set the time limit at only six weeks of pregnancy, which many advocacy groups say is a problem because a lot of women don’t know they’re even pregnant at that point.
The law that the GOP in North Carolina passed not only doubles that available window but allows for broader exceptions to the ban as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that a majority of abortions occur in the woman’s first trimester, which lasts through the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy. That’s why the North Carolina Republicans modeled their bill after 12 weeks, seeing it as a major compromise to other complete bans.
Republican state Senator Phil Berger, for instance, described his party’s bill as “a mainstream approach to limiting elective abortions.”
It’s hard to really argue with that logic, though Cooper and Democrats in the state feel otherwise. Now, the state GOP will be tested to see if they can all band together to override the governor’s veto.