North Carolina 12-week abortion ban to become law; GOP lawmakers override governor's veto

North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Legislature overrode the governor’s veto of legislation banning most abortions after 12 weeks, further restricting abortion in the state.

The override vote was completed in back-to-back sessions Tuesday night by the state House and Senate − marking a victory for the new supermajority Republican Legislature. The state now bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but the new law bans abortions after 12 weeks with exceptions for rape, incest, fetal anomalies and cases in which the life of the pregnant person is at risk.

The ban is set to take effect July 1.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, an abortion rights supporter, vetoed the measure over the weekend during a rally in front of hundreds of abortion rights activists and voters in Raleigh. Cooper had spent the past week traveling around the state to persuade Republicans to uphold his veto.

The new law, known as Senate Bill 20, severely limits abortion access for people across the South, where a number of states have banned or restricted the care since the overruling of Roe v. Wade last year.

Nationally, bans on abortion throughout pregnancy are in effect in 14 states.

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Abortions banned, restricted across much of South

The Carolinas, Florida and Virginia have been abortion destination states amid bans or severe restrictions in neighboring states.

Abortion is banned throughout pregnancy in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. In Georgia, it is banned after six weeks of pregnancy.

But new anti-abortion proposals in the Carolinas and Florida could further erode abortion rights.

Florida law bans abortions 15 weeks after pregnancy but under a recent law, it would be reduced to six weeks. In another bill up for vote Tuesday in the South Carolina House, abortions would be almost entirely banned after about six weeks of pregnancy. Last month, South Carolina and Nebraska failed to advance abortion bans.

If both the bans in the Carolinas become law, combined with Florida's ban, "it would be just devastating for abortion access in the South," Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

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Protesters, supporters gather ahead of vote

Anti-abortion protesters and supporters of the North Carolina ban rallied hours before the vote in the Senate gallery.

Senate lawmakers debated the bill as Republican leaders claiming Cooper ignored the proposed spending of at least $160 million for contraceptive services, child care access and maternal health care.

"North Carolinians watching this debate, you are bearing witness to exaggerated and extremist objections from some Democrats," Republican Sen. Vickie Sawyer of Iredell County said. "Their anger is that this bill is mainstream and a common-sense approach to a very difficult topic."

Democrats argued the ban would place dangerous barriers between pregnant people and their doctors. Democratic Sen. Natasha Marcus of Mecklenburg County said the 12-week cutoff could leave pregnant people with only a couple of weeks to decide on an abortion and would cause unwanted pregnancies.

"This bill is a slap in the face. It is a muzzle over our mouths, and it is a straitjacket on our bodies," Marcus said.

After the Senate vote, loud chants of "Shame!" could be heard outside the chamber doors.

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Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: North Carolina 12-week abortion: Lawmakers override governor's veto