Republican legislators in the North Carolina General Assembly voted to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 20, also known as the Care for Women, Children and Families Act, on Tuesday night.
Now enacted into law, the Care for Women, Children and Families Act prohibits abortions after 12 weeks. The act allows for exceptions up to 20 weeks for cases of rape and incest, up to 24 weeks for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies and has no limit if a physician deems a mother’s life in danger. The law requires in-person doctor visits to end pregnancies with a pill at 10 weeks.
The 46-page act also directs at least $160 million towards maternal health services, access to contraceptives, foster and adoption care and paid leave for teachers and state employees after childbirth.
The law is set to go into effect July 1.
Cooper vetoed the legislation at a Saturday rally in Raleigh. In his veto message, he wrote that the bill would create “dangerous interference” with the doctor-patient relationship and harm pregnant women and their families.
“With its medically unnecessary obstacles and restrictions, it 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 wrote.
On Tuesday, the North Carolina Senate voted to override the veto 30-20, then sent it to the North Carolina House, which voted 72-48. Both chambers voted on party lines to override the veto with the exact supermajority needed to overturn Cooper’s veto.
In November, North Carolina House Republicans fell one seat short of a supermajority in the midterm election. The Republican Party gained a supermajority after North Carolina Rep. Tricia Cotham changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in April.
Previously, North Carolina law prohibited abortions after 20 weeks and granted exceptions for medical emergencies after 20 weeks. However, the law had not been enforced since 2019, allowing abortions until “fetal viability,” which is the point where a human fetus can survive outside the uterus and generally occurs between 23 and 24 weeks.
In August, U.S. District Judge William Osteen lifted the injunction preventing enforcement of three North Carolina statutes prohibiting pre-viability abortions, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, the number of abortions provided in North Carolina increased by 37% within the first two months of the ruling — more than any other state.
Most states bordering North Carolina face more stringent restrictions. Tennessee and Alabama prohibit abortions at all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions for medical emergencies. Georgia prohibits abortions past six weeks post-fertilization, with limited exceptions for rape, incest and medical emergencies. Abortion remains legal up to 22 weeks post-fertilization in South Carolina, after the state’s Supreme Court permanently enjoined a six-week abortion ban.
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Jazper Lu is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.