North Carolina Republicans announce abortion bill agreement

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Republican legislative leaders said on Tuesday there’s agreement in the GOP-dominated legislature on backing a measure that would prohibit abortion in nearly all cases after roughly the first trimester of pregnancy.
House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger announced at an early-evening news conference that there’s consensus between Republicans in the state House and Senate.
North Carolina law currently bans nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The measure would reduce it to 12 weeks, with new exceptions in cases of rape, incest or fetal abnormality. An existing exception for when the life of the pregnant woman is in danger would remain.
Final votes for the agreed-upon legislation would occur Thursday, legislators said.
The final measure would go to the desk of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is a strong supporter of abortion rights. He said in December he would consider it extreme to ban abortion after less than 20 weeks.
Republicans now hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers after then-Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham, of Mecklenburg County, switched to the Republican Party last month. Cotham has declined to say publicly whether she would be willing to vote for new restrictions. If she doesn’t vote for the bill, some House Democrats likely would have to vote for an override or be absent for Republicans to overcome a Cooper veto.
The bill also contains provisions to make adoptions easier and to improve health care access for children and pregnant women.
“This bill is a comprehensive plan to support women, children and their families,” said Sen. Joyce Krawiec, a Forsyth County Republican and one of the negotiators of the agreement. “It will undoubtedly save lives and improve health outcomes for many pregnant women.”
House and Senate Republicans have been working for months toward a consensus to further act upon last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. At the time of the ruling last June, abortions were legal in North Carolina until fetal viability, which generally falls between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, or in certain medical emergencies. That made North Carolina a locale for abortion access for those traveling from other Southern states where abortion was already banned.
A federal judge in August reinstated the unenforced 20-week ban following the Supreme Court’s ruling.