IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

North Carolina governor vetoes abortion limits, launches override showdown

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the 12-week abortion ban sets up an override vote by Republicans, who hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature.
Gov. Roy Cooper speaks in Raleigh, N.C.
Gov. Roy Cooper speaks in Raleigh, N.C., in 2022.Sean Rayford / Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s Democratic governor has vetoed legislation that would have banned nearly all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The veto came Saturday during a public rally.

Hundreds of abortion-rights activists and voters watched on a plaza in Raleigh between the governor’s office and the Legislative Building as Gov. Roy Cooper affixed his veto stamp to the bill, which also places additional restrictions on physicians, abortion clinics and the women seeking the procedure.

The veto launches a major test for leaders of the GOP-controlled General Assembly to attempt to override Cooper’s veto after they recently gained veto-proof majorities in both chambers. The bill was the Republican response to last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Cooper, a strong abortion-rights supporter, had until Sunday night to act on the measure that would tighten current state law that bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Party-line votes for passage last week in the House and Senate signaled Cooper’s veto could block the bill’s enactment if just one Republican who voted yes changes their mind or is absent during an override vote.

So the governor spent this week on the road talking about the bill’s lesser-known details and urging residents to apply pressure upon key Republican lawmakers who expressed hesitance about further restrictions during their campaigns for office last year.

Republicans have pitched the measure as a middle-ground change to state abortion laws developed after months of private negotiations between House and Senate GOP members. It adds exceptions to the 12-week ban, extending the limit through 20 weeks for rape and incest and through 24 weeks for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies.

But Cooper has said repeatedly the details contained in the 47-page bill show that the measure isn’t a reasonable compromise and would instead greatly erode reproductive rights.