Update, May 17: On May 16, the General Assembly in North Carolina overrode the veto of Gov. Roy Cooper, putting into place a ban on most abortions after 12 weeks. State Representative Tricia Cotham, who ran as a Democrat but recently switched to the Republican Party, proved an essential vote, giving her new side a supermajority. She said in a statement that the bill offered “a middle ground that anyone not holding one of the two extremist positions can support.”
On Saturday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would ban most abortions in the state after 12 weeks. But this is far from the end: The Republican supermajority in the state legislature is poised to overturn the veto and enact an abortion ban.
It would be a blow not just to North Carolina, which currently permits abortion up to 20 weeks, but to the entire South. The state became an “abortion destination” after Roe v. Wade was overturned and neighboring states enacted strict bans. Abortions in North Carolina have reportedly risen by 37 percent since the Dobbs decision was handed down. And, according to a February Meredith poll, more than half of North Carolinians wanted to keep or expand the state’s current abortion law.
At a rally on Saturday, Cooper asked Republican legislators to “step up and do the right thing” by voting not to override the veto. “If just one Republican follows his or her conscience, if just one Republican finds the courage, if just one Republican listens to doctors, if just one Republican is unafraid to stand up to the political bosses, if just one Republican keeps that promise made to the people, then we can stop this ban,” he said.
In April, State Rep. Tricia Cotham, who ran as a Democrat committed to defending abortion rights, switched her affiliation to Republican. Despite having spoken publicly about her own medically necessary abortion, and sponsoring legislation to codify Roe v. Wade, she voted in favor of the 12-week ban. Now, Democrats are left hoping that she will be true to her constituents and change her mind again.
If the bill becomes law, more people will likely have to travel farther for abortion care, delaying the procedure and increasing risks. The number of people continuing unwanted or dangerous pregnancies is also likely to increase.