Lawmakers Reduce Abortion Timeline to 12 Weeks

Governor promises veto, which may be overridden
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 4, 2023 7:05 PM CDT
North Carolina Lawmakers Shorten Abortion Window
North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger speaks with fellow Republican Sens. Amy Galey, left, Joyce Krawiec, center, and Lisa Barnes on the Senate floor in Raleigh, N.C., before the chamber votes on new abortion restriction Thursday.   (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum)

North Carolina lawmakers on Thursday approved and sent to the governor a ban on nearly all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, down from the current 20 weeks, in response to last year's overturning of Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court. The ban is one of the least onerous of a slew of bills Republican-led assemblies have pushed through in recent months since the high court stripped away constitutional protections for abortion, the AP reports. Nonetheless, the 29-20 party-line vote by the Senate was met with loud cries of "Abortion rights now!" from about 100 observers who had crowded into the gallery to watch the debate. Police quickly cleared the area, but protesters could still be heard shouting "Shame!" through the closed doors.

The House passed the measure Wednesday night on a similar party-line vote. Other states have prohibited the procedure almost completely or throughout pregnancy. While perhaps less stringent, North Carolina's bill has far-reaching consequences. Before its passage, many women from nearby states with more restrictive laws had traveled to the state for abortions in later stages of pregnancy. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has pledged to veto the bill, calling it "an egregious, unacceptable attack on the women of our state," but GOP seat margins and assurances from chamber leaders indicate a veto will likely be overridden, per the AP.

Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue of Wake County said it was unprecedented that all 20 members of the chamber’s Democratic caucus spoke on the floor about the bill. He called the abortion vote "one of the most consequential things we have done in this chamber." The bill would take effect July 1. It also would place limits on new exceptions, capping abortions at 20 weeks in cases of rape or incest and 24 weeks for "life-limiting" fetal anomalies. An existing exception for when the life of the pregnant woman is in danger would remain. The bill, revealed just this week after months of private negotiations by Republican legislators, includes more medical and paperwork requirements for patients and physicians and licensing requirements for abortion clinics.

(More anti-abortion laws stories.)

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