North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Senate voted to override the governor’s veto of a 12-week abortion ban, with the GOP-led House poised to hold its vote Tuesday night in a test of the party’s new supermajority in the Legislature.
The Senate voted 30-20 along party lines as it reconsidered the vetoed bill during Tuesday‘s session. The House, which holds a 72-48 Republican majority, is expected to vote in a potential completion of the override Tuesday evening, according to the House speaker’s chief of staff.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the legislation Saturday, keeping abortion legal in the state at up to 20 weeks. But North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore vowed that the veto would be “swiftly overridden.”
Last month, state Rep. Tricia Cotham joined the Republican Party after campaigning and winning her House seat as a Democrat, handing the Republicans a veto-proof majority. But if all House Democrats vote against the bill, as they are expected to, the decision to override the governor’s veto could come down to just one Republican vote.
Cooper has spent the past week locked in a pressure campaign to encourage Republican legislators to break with their party and oppose the bill. In a video posted online, he named four Republican legislators who he said made campaign promises to protect abortion access.
“They say this is a reasonable 12-week ban,” Cooper said. “It’s not. The fine print requirements and restrictions will shut down clinics and make abortion completely unavailable to many women at any time, causing desperation and death.”
The bill’s three Republican co-sponsors and the state Senate majority leader did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The 12-week abortion ban is a less restrictive threshold than other conservative legislatures have implemented. It includes exceptions for rape or incest and a “life-limiting anomaly” in the fetus.
But opponents of the bill say it would effectively curtail abortion access in a state that has become a haven for women seeking the procedure. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision last June overturning Roe v. Wade, North Carolina saw a significant increase in the number of abortions provided, suggesting that women from surrounding states may have flocked to North Carolina to bypass strict abortion bans, according to numbers compiled by the nonprofit Society of Family Planning.
The bill would place new restrictions on abortion access. It would require that women have an in-person physician visit at least 72 hours prior to receiving a surgical abortion. Doctors must also make available to women a real-time view of the fetus and allow women seeking abortions to listen to the heartbeat of their fetus.
Democrats also objected to the speed with which Republicans passed the bill, saying no time was provided for a full debate.
State Sen. Val Applewhite, a Democrat, said she had one night to read the legislative text before it was voted on in committee.
“I stayed up all night with my highlight and pens trying to make tails of it,” Applewhite said. “It’s a lot to take in.”
She anticipated that the bill will pass the Legislature on Tuesday, but said it’s possible Republicans would vote against it after facing pressure from their constituents.
“This is courage time,” Applewhite said. “This is gut check.”
Zoë Richards contributed.