North Carolina Senate Advances Abortion Ban

North Carolina Senate Advances Abortion Ban  at george magazine

The Democratic governor had vetoed the 12-week ban, but the Senate, with a Republican supermajority, voted to override his veto. The bill now goes to the House.

Republican legislators in North Carolina’s State Senate voted on Tuesday to advance a ban on most abortions after 12 weeks, overriding their Democratic governor’s recent veto of the new restrictions.

The bill now moves to the House chamber, where the support of every Republican would be required to complete the override and make the bill law. The House plans to vote later Tuesday night.

Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers of the legislature, giving them the power to overrule the governor if they can remain unified and muster enough votes. That is not assured in the House, where just one Republican vote against the override could stop the bill from becoming law.

The bill, SB 20, would restrict most abortions in North Carolina to 12 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest, certain fetal abnormalities and the life of the mother. It also mandates that detailed information about abortion procedures be reported to state regulators.

The legislation has sparked a political uproar in North Carolina, where polls show that most voters support the state’s current abortion access of up to 20 weeks or want to see it expanded, and a little over a third of voters want to restrict or ban access.

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill during at a raucous rally near the legislative building in Raleigh on Saturday. But their razor-thin supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly gave Republicans a strong chance of making his veto moot, and House and Senate leaders promised to quickly make that happen.

Crowds of abortion rights supporters gathered in Raleigh on Saturday as Governor Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would ban abortion after 12 weeks.Kate Medley for The New York Times

Republican strategists said SB 20 could prove to be an important litmus test of the political realities for Republicans, especially in purple states like North Carolina.

“Legislatively they’re on offense, but politically, they’re on defense, which is a bizarre place to be,” said Doug Heye, a former Republican National Committee communications director and North Carolina native who has consulted on three Republican U.S. Senate races there. “They’re feeling this issue out for what’s acceptable to the broader public.”

On Tuesday evening, Republicans defended the bill as a compromise on a difficult issue. “A restriction with exceptions is not a ban,” said Amy S. Galey, a Senate Republican.

On Monday, entities that do business throughout the state, including the online-rating company Yelp, the British manufacturer Lush Cosmetics, and the upscale Raleigh eatery Death & Taxes signed a petition opposing the bill along economic lines, arguing that it could damage North Carolina’s standing as a magnet for business.

“Nothing else you will do, could do, will erase the harm that this bill will do to women and girls — our health, our status in society, our ability to plan our families and our careers. It undermines our ability to trust that you care about what happens to us,” said Natasha Marcus, a Senate Democrat from the Charlotte area. “It is honestly hard for me to believe that my government would do this to me, to my daughters, to my friends, to their daughters.”

Tim Moore, the House speaker, said his chamber would take up the bill as early as Tuesday night.

The House vote was considered to be more of a tossup than the Senate’s, given that several House members had signaled during their last campaigns that they would not support rollbacks of abortion access.

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