North Carolina governor vetoes 12-week abortion ban but faces GOP override

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Saturday vetoed legislation that would have banned most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy — though his veto could still be overridden by the state’s GOP-led legislature.

The Democratic governor announced his veto in front of a large crowd of abortion rights advocates during a rally for healthcare freedom. The demonstration was held outside the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh.

“We’re going to have to kick it into an even higher gear when that veto stamp comes down,” Cooper told the crowd, many of them carrying signs that read “Bans off our bodies,” “Abortion is healthcare” and “Forced birth is violence.”

“If just one Republican in either the House or the Senate keeps a campaign promise to protect women’s reproductive health, we can stop this ban,” he said.

Around 1,000 reproductive rights supporters turned out to watch the governor officially sign the veto on the legislation, which critics say would likely force some North Carolinians to go through “the nightmare of forced pregnancy and childbirth against their will.”

Senate Bill 20 — which is opposed by organizations such as the North Carolina Medical Society, the North Carolina Obstetrical and Gynecological Society and the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians — recently passed the GOP-controlled General Assembly, where both chambers have veto-proof majorities.

“This bill will create dangerous interference with the doctor-patient relationship, leading to harm for pregnant women and their families,” Cooper wrote in his veto. “With its medically unnecessary obstacles and restrictions, it will make abortion unavailable to many women, particularly those with lower incomes, those who live in rural areas, and those who already have limited access to healthcare.”

SB 20 — titled “The Care for Women, Children and Families Act” — has “nothing to do with making women safer, and everything to do with banning abortion,” Cooper said at the rally.

“How about we leave medicine to the doctors and the decisions to the women?” he asked, referring to the “complicated and confusing monster bill” that makes patients “navigate a wicked obstacle course just to get care.”

Senate leader Phil Berger said in a statement Saturday he looks forward to “promptly overriding [Cooper’s] veto.”

The Republican senator accused the governor of “feeding the public lies about Senate Bill 20 and bullying members of the General Assembly” to block the legislation.