Republican lawmakers have just passed a 12-week abortion ban which reduces the window for the procedure down from the state’s current limit of 20 weeks.
The bill does offer exceptions in the cases of rape or incest and in cases where the fetus has life-limiting anomalies. Under such circumstances, abortions can be performed up to 24 weeks. The legislation does not ban abortion within any timeframe if the mother’s life is in danger.
The state senate passed the legislation on May 4 with a 29-20 vote, just a day after the bill was approved by the house. The legislation will now head to the desk of Gov. Roy Cooper (D) who is expected to veto the bill.
Cooper issued a statement saying, “North Carolina Republicans are pushing an extreme abortion ban that will cause many clinics to shut their doors and dramatically reduce women’s health care freedom.”
Last month, however, a House Democrat switched parties, which now gives Republicans a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers. Lawmakers say they have the votes to enact the law despite Cooper’s objection.
According to Reuters, Republicans defend the bill as “common-sense legislation” that represents a compromise, including funding for parental leave, child care, and foster care.
“The focus of this legislation is the health and the safety of women and children,” Reuters quoted state Senator Lisa Barnes (R) as saying.
Also quoted by the news outlet was Democrat State Sen. Mary Willis Bode, who said the bill is “devastatingly cruel” and claimed that women would be forced into seeking black-market abortions, rather than traveling to a nearby state that allows the procedure.
“Limiting access to care will not stop abortions from happening,” she said. “They will just stop safe abortions from happening.”
Following the bill’s passage, pro-abortion advocates began loudly chanting “Abortion rights now!” in the chamber.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre blasted the new law on Twitter.
“North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature passed an extreme abortion ban that would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and make it harder for women to access care,” she wrote.
Jean-Pierre added that the president and vice-president “will continue to fight to restore the protections of [Roe v Wade] under federal law.”