Source: Editorial Board
As we now know, both chambers of the North Carolina legislature voted to approve an extreme, 12-week ban on abortions in our state and they did it in less than two days from when the bill was introduced.
Republican leaders introduced Senate Bill 20 after-hours on the night of May 2, after the deadline for introducing bills and after promises from so-called “moderate” Republicans to uphold the current 20-week ban.
When compared to more restrictive states, 12 weeks may sound “reasonable,” which is what North Carolina Republicans want you to think. As is often the case, you shouldn’t believe what Republicans say. This legislation is far more extreme than a simple 12-week ban.
If you dig a little deeper, it becomes very clear that this is far more restrictive. This ban imposes significant, and in many cases, insurmountable roadblocks for people trying to get an abortion early in their pregnancy.
Senate Bill 20 includes restrictions and requirements targeting abortion clinics, makes it harder for a person to get an abortion even before 12 weeks and resurrects previously removed restrictions.
The new restrictions and requirements will effectively ban reproductive freedom before 12 weeks – and sometimes altogether – for pregnant North Carolinians.
As is often the case with legislation that strips rights and autonomy away from people, this bill was introduced and has been pushed by an overwhelmingly old, white and male group of legislators. The NCGOP limited public comment and debate, then rammed through the legislation. It shouldn’t be ignored that the people who pushed through SB 20 will almost assuredly be spared from its consequences.
Gov. Roy Cooper has vowed to veto the bill, but Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers and can override his veto. This extreme ban will become North Carolina law unless Republicans who campaigned on not restricting abortion any further than the 20-week ban that has been in place since after Roe v. Wade was overturned decide to actually stand behind their words and vote against overriding the governor’s veto.
Here’s a quick look at the legislators who can either keep their word to their constituents or they can lie and vote to take away the rights of their voters:
- Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) claimed last year that he would “oppose an extreme abortion ban” if re-elected. He voted for the 12-week ban.
- Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) said last year that he supported North Carolina’s current law allowing abortions up to 20 weeks. He didn’t show up to vote on the ban.
- Rep. John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg) said he had “no intentions…of going back to Raleigh and trying to make the [law] more restrictive.” He voted for the 12-week ban.
- Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) campaigned as a pro-choice Democrat last year and co-sponsored a bill earlier this year to codify Roe v. Wade as the law in North Carolina. She switched to the Republican Party last month and voted for the 12-week ban Wednesday night.
Gov. Cooper specifically called out Lee, Davis, Bradford and Cotham in a video message following the Senate’s passage of SB 20 last week. Cooper wants to make sure these legislators stick to the campaign promises they made to voters.
North Carolinians are opposed to further abortion restrictions. A Meredith College poll from earlier this year shows 57% of North Carolinians want to keep or expand the 20-week limit on abortion. Now would be a good time for these politicians to stand up for what they told voters they believed in.