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NEW YORK – Legislation in North Carolina that bans most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, which the state’s bishops say “represents progress toward building a culture of life,” will now become law after the state’s Republican-controlled General Assembly overrode the Democratic governor’s veto.
Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the legislation – dubbed the “Care for Women, Children and Families Act” – over the weekend. He then needed at least one Republican lawmaker to vote against an override to uphold his veto, which didn’t happen. Late on May 16 the state House voted along party lines to override the veto, as the state Senate had done earlier in the day.
The 12-week abortion ban includes exceptions: It extends the abortion limit to 20 weeks of pregnancy for instances of rape and incest, and through 24 weeks of pregnancy for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies.
North Carolina’s previous abortion law banned the procedure in almost all instances after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and didn’t include exceptions for rape or incest.
On May 15, before the override had taken place, North Carolina’s Catholic Bishops Peter Jugis of Charlotte and Luis Zarama of Raleigh said that while the bill is not perfect, they “hope [the bill] will become law to advance protection for unborn children and support for mothers in need.”
“In every human life – from the moment of conception until natural death – the Church sees the image of God and the inviolable dignity of the human person,” the prelates said in a statement. “This is why the Church always stands for life and calls on everyone to defend life.”
“The Church is deeply committed through her social and pastoral outreach to caring for mothers and families at every stage of life,” they continued.
North Carolina is the latest state to either restrict or expand access to abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, which put abortion laws in the hands of state lawmakers. Abortion laws nationwide now range from all out bans, to throughout an entire pregnancy.
Following the North Carolina General Assembly override, Cooper issued a statement vowing to do everything he can to protect abortion access in the state.
“North Carolinians now understand that Republicans are unified in their assault on women’s reproductive freedom and we are energized to fight back on this and other critical issues facing our state,” Cooper said. “I will continue doing everything I can to protect abortion access in North Carolina because women’s lives depend on it.”
Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg