North Carolina GOP takes first step to override veto of 12-week abortion limit

Protesters on both sides of the issue hold signs, Tuesday in Raleigh, N.C., as they wait to enter the Senate gallery. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Senate voted Tuesday to override the Democratic governor’s veto of a bill banning most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy in the first of two steps necessary to enact the policy over Gov. Roy Cooper’ s opposition.

The vote came as abortion rights in the U.S. faced another tectonic shift with lawmakers debating laws to sharply limit abortion in North Carolina and South Carolina, two of the few remaining Southern states with relatively easy access.


Nebraska joined the two states in debating abortion restrictions Tuesday that are possible because the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which established a nationwide right to abortion.

Under another bill up for a vote Tuesday in the South Carolina House, abortion access would be almost entirely banned after about six weeks of pregnancy — before women often know they’re pregnant.

The South Carolina state Senate previously rejected a proposal to nearly outlaw abortions.

Abortion is banned or severely restricted in much of the South and is now banned throughout pregnancy in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

In Georgia, it’s allowed only in the first six weeks.

The Carolinas, Florida and Virginia are now the main destinations in the region for those seeking legal abortions. Florida has a ban that kicks in 15 weeks into pregnancy. Under a recent law, that would tighten to six weeks pending a court ruling. Further west, women often travel to Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico or Colorado.

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

If the North and South Carolina bans become law, combined with Florida’s recent ban, “it would be just devastating for abortion access in the South,” Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.

In North Carolina, House Republicans will attempt later Tuesday to complete the override of Cooper’s veto in a consequential test of unity for their recently attained supermajority.

In both the House and Senate, Republicans hold the exact three-fifths majority needed to pull off an override if all members are present and vote together.

While House Speaker Tim Moore has made repeated assurances that he has the votes, one key Republican has declined to state publicly his position on the bill.

Cooper vetoed the measure last weekend in an unconventionally public ceremony after spending last week traveling around the state to convince at least one Republican to uphold his expected veto.

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