North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed legislation on Saturday that would establish a 12-week abortion ban in the state, potentially setting up the legislature for a battle to override it and make the ban law.
Cooper held a rally on Saturday with about 1,000 abortion-rights activists and voters in the capital city of Raleigh to veto the legislation, which passed both houses of the state legislature along party lines.
“The extreme abortion ban has been vetoed,” Cooper tweeted. “Let’s work to keep it that way.”
Current state law bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but the bill would mostly prohibit them after 12 weeks.
The legislation also include exceptions for instances of rape and incest up to 20 weeks and for fetal birth anomalies up to 24 weeks, as well as exceptions to save the life of the mother without any deadline.
Republicans in the state General Assembly until recently would have been unable to override a veto from Cooper if all members voted with their parties on the bill.
But that changed last month when state Rep. Tricia Cotham changed parties from Democrat to Republican to give the GOP a veto-proof supermajority in both houses. Cotham represents a Democratic-leaning district in the state House and has advocated for abortion rights in the past.
Lawmakers quickly moved to advance a new ban following Cotham’s switch.
The measure would significantly tighten abortion access in North Carolina but would still be less restrictive than the laws passed in most other southern states that have banned abortion either at six weeks or almost entirely.
Cooper’s office said in a release that Republicans are trying to present this bill as “mainstream,” but it would majorly reduce women’s access to abortion and could cause women’s health clinics in the state to close.
“This bill will create dangerous interference with the doctor-patient relationship, leading to harm for pregnant women and their families,” the governor said. “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 noted that the legislation will ban abortion by medication, which is the most common method, after 10 weeks of pregnancy, require three in-person appointments days apart for those seeking a medical abortion and increase “burdensome attestations” that patients must complete before receiving reproductive health care.
Republicans have argued that the bill reaches a middle ground between differing state abortion laws. The bill was agreed upon after negotiations between Republicans in the state House and Senate.
Cooper had until Sunday to issue his veto. The legislature could begin voting to try to override it next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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