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Governor Cooper Fights To Defend Reproductive Rights In North Carolina

A draft opinion from the US Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade and jeopardize the right to safe, legal abortion across the nation. According to Axios, “if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper would be the only person standing between the Republican-controlled General Assembly and tighter abortion restrictions in North Carolina.”

Governor Cooper, elected in 2016, has vetoed several attacks on reproductive rights advanced by Republican legislators. Democrats currently hold enough power in the General Assembly to sustain the Governor’s veto and reject further attacks on reproductive rights. 

However, according to Axios, “Republicans in the state capitol are circling” and hope to flip a small number of seats this November to effectively strip Governor Cooper of his veto power. Leaders in the North Carolina Republican Party have expressed their desire to further restrict abortion. Should they be successful in gaining seats in the legislature this fall, their desires could quickly become reality. 

Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson has called on the General Assembly to act and said “if the Supreme Court hands the power back to the states, it will be our duty to protect the life of the unborn.”  This week, Republican Rep. Keith Kidwell announced his intention to “draft legislation similar to the Texas abortion ban.”

Should the US Supreme Court successfully overturn Roe v. Wade, electing pro-choice legislators to the North Carolina General Assembly will be more imporatant than ever before. Cooper has acknowledged this reality and has pledged to “work hard to elect Democrats to our state legislature in order to protect people from what a supermajority, right-wing, Republican legislature could do to affect their quality of life.”

The GOP’s renewed attack on reproductive rights will have a disproportionate impact on Black, Brown, LGBTQ+ folks, people earning low incomes, and those that live in rural communities, where health care can be extremely hard to access. In North Carolina, maternal mortality rates are disproportionately high among women of color. Black women are more than two and a half times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications, according to North Carolina Health News.

Cooper has also joined a coalition of 16 other Governors to call on Congress to immediately protect reproductive rights. Cooper said, “Our collective responsibility to defend access to reproductive health care and a woman’s right to make her own decisions has never been more important.”

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