National News

N.C. Poised to Enact 12-Week Abortion Ban Over Governor’s Objections

A pro-life sign is displayed during the 2019 annual March for Life rally in Washington. (OSV News photo)

By Kate Scanlon

(OSV News) — North Carolina legislators appear poised to pass a ban on abortions after 12 weeks despite objections from the state’s governor.

The Care for Women, Children and Families Act would prohibit elective abortions after 12 weeks, as well as implement new safety requirements for abortion clinics and additional funding for resources, including adoption and foster care services, as well as some paid parental leave.

The bill has exceptions for cases of rape and incest up to 20 weeks gestation, for fetal anomalies up to 24 weeks gestation, and no limitations in cases with a maternal mortality risk.

The legislation’s supporters in the state Legislature used a procedural motion allowing them to bypass additional committee votes, which could allow its passage within the week.

The 12-week ban would be an outlier among states that have moved to restrict abortion since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June overturned prior rulings by the high court — including Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which found abortion access to be a constitutional right. Of the states that have implemented new restrictions, many have done so at earlier stages.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that most abortions in the United States take place prior to 12 weeks. In 2020, the CDC found that 80.9% of abortions were performed prior to nine weeks gestation, with 93.1% of all procedures prior to 13 weeks gestation.

Gov. Roy Cooper (D-N.C.) gives a victory speech following his successful reelection bid in Raleigh, North Carolina, Nov. 3, 2020. The governor plans to veto legislation that would ban abortions in the state after 12 weeks, but Republicans in the Legislature may have the votes to override him. (OSV News photo)

Gov. Roy Cooper, D-N.C., wrote on Twitter that he did not support the bill and planned to veto it.

“It will effectively ban access to reproductive freedom earlier and sometimes altogether for many women because of new restrictions and requirements,” Cooper wrote. “This is why Republicans are ramming it through with no chance to amend. I will veto this extreme ban and need everyone’s help to avoid it.”

Cooper’s veto would likely only stall the legislation, as Republicans hold a supermajority in the state’s Senate and a large majority in the House, likely leaving them with the votes to override a veto.

North Carolina currently bans abortion after 20 weeks pregnancy, with exceptions for cases with a risk to a woman’s life.

Caitlin Connors, southern regional director for SBA Pro-Life America, said in a statement that the legislation “is deeply pro-life and pro-woman and a major step forward for North Carolina.”

“This bill would protect thousands of lives a year from brutal abortions at a point when unborn babies have beating hearts, recognizable faces and unique fingerprints forming, and the capacity to suffer, as well as stopping dangerous mail-order abortion pills and more,” Connors said. “It demonstrates the Legislature’s serious commitment to giving women and families in North Carolina the support they need to thrive.”

Connors thanked the legislators who backed the bill and argued that Cooper and others who oppose the bill “oppose the will of the people at their political peril.”