Despite a recently reinstated ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, North Carolina is still seen as a haven for people seeking reproductive care across the South – but that could drastically change next year, depending on the outcome of as few as five legislative races this fall, according to FiveThirtyEight.
According to data from Planned Parenthood, around one-third of people getting abortions in North Carolina in August came from out of state – far higher than the 14% in June who came from outside the state.
FiveThirtyEight’s Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux wrote that abortion “won’t stay [legal] for long if Republicans in the state legislature are able to win enough seats in the upcoming midterm elections.”
The North Carolina State Legislature is currently controlled by Republicans, but Democrats have enough seats to prevent Republicans from having a supermajority. Without a Republican supermajority, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto power remains intact. Republicans will have enough votes to override Cooper’s veto on any bill if they are able to increase their numbers by just two in the Senate and three more in the House.
Cooper must keep his veto power in order to prevent abortion from being even more severely restricted in North Carolina. Senate leader Phil Berger has already indicated that he would support a ban on abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy and House Speaker Tim Moore supports a ban on abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy.
Whether or not Republicans take control of both chambers of the legislature in North Carolina, the simple fact remains that the majority of North Carolinians have no interest in increasing restrictions on abortions. In fact, a poll conducted in August found that 55% of North Carolinians either thought the current laws are “about right” or they wanted even fewer restrictions on abortions. The poll showed that 37% of North Carolinians wanted more restrictions.
Axios reported that Cooper told them that he’s “been able to stop extreme legislation that Republicans would pass.” He went on to tell them, “I am going to be working to maintain that number of Democrats that I need (for) the state legislature to be able to sustain my veto.”
Although Cooper is not on the ballot in this fall’s midterm elections, he’s still out campaigning for Democrats and appearing in ads, like one for North Carolina Senate candidate Marcia Morgan, where he pledges to veto the GOP’s “cruel and extreme” abortion restrictions. He warns in the ad, though, that “I need enough senators to uphold it.” Morgan is running against anti-abortion extremist Michael Lee in New Hanover County.
State legislative races don’t often get the press coverage or attention from voters they deserve and this election season doesn’t appear to be any different. Despite that, every state Senate and House race this fall is going to be integral to keeping abortion legal in North Carolina. Voters must understand the importance of these often overlooked races.