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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper Sean Rayford/Getty Images

UPDATE: The North Carolina Senate will vote on Tuesday, May 15, on whether to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto, Republican Senate leader Phil Berger announced on Monday. The Senate will convene at 4 p.m. Republican North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said that the House will “vote to complete the override” on Tuesday evening after the Senate vote.

RALEIGH, North Carolina (LifeSiteNews) — North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Saturday vetoed a bill that would ban thousands of abortions in the state, setting up an override fight with Republican lawmakers.

Senate Bill 20, which passed North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature last week, would prohibit surgical abortion at 12 weeks and chemical abortion at 10 weeks. It would also require a 72-hour waiting period and multiple in-person visits for abortions and impose strict new licensing requirements for abortion facilities, among other measures.

The bill came about as a compromise between conservative and moderate Republicans after the GOP secured a narrow supermajority in the state legislature in April.

Cooper, an adamant abortion supporter, criticized Senate Bill 20 for creating a “wicked obstacle course” for a woman to kill her unborn baby. The bill “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 health care,” he said in his veto message.

Caitlin Connors, the southern regional director of SBA Pro-Life America, blasted Cooper for rejecting the measure, saying that he “sided with the abortion industry over the people.”

“During his tour targeting legislators to uphold his veto, the Governor made it abundantly clear who he was representing by holding a panel with the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood and the owner of another abortion facility,” she said.

SBA noted that, at 12 weeks of gestation, “all major organs have formed and the heart has beat over 10 million times. At this stage, babies suck their thumbs and already have a right-hand or left-hand preference,” as well as prominent facial features.

“We thank legislators for standing with 62% of North Carolinians against Gov. Cooper’s Planned Parenthood-driven agenda to deny the protection of life for babies at the point when they resemble mom or dad, their heart has beat more than 10 million times and they respond to touch,” Connors continued.

Republicans could move to override Cooper’s veto as early as next week. Even a single defection could jeopardize the override effort: The GOP has a one-vote supermajority in the legislature, and all Democrats voted against Senate Bill 20.

But Republicans may have the votes they need. Every GOP lawmaker voted in favor of the bill last week except for Rep. Ted Davis of Wilmington, who was absent. Davis has previously said that he supports the state’s current law banning abortion at 20 weeks, but House Speaker Tim Moore recently said that Davis will vote “yes” on an override, the Associated Press reported. 

Both Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger predicted that the legislature would quickly override the governor’s veto.

New abortion restrictions

Senate Bill 20, known as the “Care for Women, Children and Families Act,” contains a raft of new pro-life protections and abortion restrictions, including a ban on mailing abortion-inducing drugs to pregnant women; protections for medical professionals who refuse to participate in abortions on “moral, ethical, or religious grounds”; a ban on abortions sought “in whole or in part” due to a baby’s race, sex, or Down syndrome diagnosis; a ban on partial-birth abortion “at any time”; and a requirement that women make two in-person visits for a surgical abortion and three for a chemical abortion.

Chemical abortions accounted for nearly 60 percent of abortions in North Carolina in 2020.

The bill allows exceptions for rape and incest up to 20 weeks, for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies up to 24 weeks, and when allegedly necessary to avoid a woman’s death, though not for “psychological or emotional conditions.” Medical experts have attested that abortion is never medically necessary.

It also contains tens of millions of dollars in funding for alternatives to abortion and initiatives intended to strengthen families, including $75 million to expand childcare access; more than $58 million to support foster care and children’s homes; $20 million for paid parental leave for teachers and state employees; and $16 million dollars, including matching federal funds, to reduce infant and maternal mortality, according to The Carolina Journal.

The bill, however, additionally allocates $7 million to promote long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) to low-income women. LARC can act as an abortifacient.

Other provisions include increased penalties for domestic violence and assaulting a pregnant woman and lifetime GPS monitoring of repeat violent sex offenders.

Senate Bill 20 would take effect on July 1.

North Carolina: An abortion haven

With 14.4 abortions per 1,000 women, North Carolina has one of the highest abortion rates in the U.S.

The state reported more than 30,000 abortions in 2020, according to the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute. Nineteen percent occurred between nine and 12 weeks’ gestation, and 12 percent took place after the first trimester.

North Carolina’s already-high abortion numbers have surged since the overturn of Roe v. Wade last June, as most other southern states have implemented sweeping pro-life laws.

MAP: Most abortions are banned in 14 states, more states to follow

Abortions in North Carolina rose by 37 percent between April and August 2022 — more than any other state — according to estimates from the Society for Family Planning, a pro-abortion group. Around 5,000 additional abortions took place in the Tar Heel State in the first six months after the reversal of Roe, according to the group.

The proportion of late-term abortions has also likely increased, with more women traveling to North Carolina for abortions and abortion facilities reporting wait times over a month long.

Passage of Senate Bill 20 would diminish North Carolina as an abortion haven, preventing at least 3,000 abortions each year and curbing “abortion tourism from other states,” SBA Pro-Life America has said.