Lawmakers and state officials react veto override of 12-week abortion bill

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 9:28 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina lawmakers overrode Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 20, an abortion bill that has divided the General Assembly along political lines.

Cooper announced his veto of the bill over the weekend and Republican lawmakers overrode it on Tuesday evening.

WBTV reached out to all state lawmakers representing Mecklenburg County for their thoughts on the bill and the veto override. Along with lawmakers, state officials and more have also issued statements on the vote.

Representative John Autry, Democrat - District 100

“I will be supporting the Governor’s veto and vote to sustain. The decision to start a family is a big one, one that I am not prepared to make for someone else.”

Representative Mary Belk, Democrat - District 88

“I plan to support Governor Cooper’s veto of SB 20 because I don’t think the people in the NCGA have any business taking away women’s freedom to choose when and how they want to have a family here in North Carolina.

It is the height of arrogance to think that a political debate should take the place of a deeply private and personal decision that every woman should have the right to make based on her own health and life circumstances.”

Representative Wesley Harris, Democrat - District 105

“I will vote to sustain Governor Cooper’s Veto. SB20 is a bad bill that will make it prohibitively difficult for our neighbors to seek vital healthcare, and I happen to believe that someone shouldn’t need to consult a lawyer just to visit their OB/GYN. North Carolinians overwhelmingly support the Roe v. Wade standard on Abortion—that’s what they voted for when they returned a legislature that would sustain Governor Cooper’s Veto, and I promised my constituents I would not restrict their reproductive rights when I ran in 2022. Unlike some members of the Mecklenburg Delegation, I keep my promises.”

Representative Brandon Lofton, Democrat - District 104

“I voted against the legislation when it first came to the House floor and I plan to vote to sustain the governor’s veto. This bill will create more barriers to comprehensive reproductive healthcare access across the state. Women should be able to make decisions that are best for themselves and their families with their physicians and without government interference.”

Representative Carolyn G. Logan, Democrat - District 101

“An abortion should be a decision between a woman, her doctor, her family, and her God. No one else. Legislating with such a flawed bill will lead to hardships and deaths. To me, it is no longer a matter of IF the GOP will eventually pursue a full abortion ban but a matter of WHEN. I am voting to sustain the veto because I don’t want to send women back 50 years. More importantly, I don’t want our daughters to have less rights than their mothers.”

Senator Natasha R. Marcus, Democrat District - 41

“I remember when I believed that the Republican party stood for small government and personal freedom.  We can debate exactly when that changed, but it’s clear that if they do this to North Carolina’s women and girls, if they make SB20 the law here, they can’t claim to stand on those principles anymore.  I remember when I believed that the Republican party stood for small government and personal freedom.

We can debate exactly when that changed, but it’s clear that if they do this to North Carolina’s women and girls, if they make SB20 the law here, they can’t claim to stand on those principles anymore.

This bill will harm women and girls, our health, our status in society, our ability to plan our families and careers. It undermines our ability to trust that our government cares about what happens to us, trusts us to make our own decisions, or values our lives, our contributions, our humanity. This bill is a slap in the face, a muzzle over our mouths, and a straitjacket on our bodies.”

Representative Tricia Cotham, Republican District - 112

“I understand that there are extremists on both sides of the abortion issue. Some of the absolutists believe abortion is unacceptable in any circumstance and some of the absolutists believe aborting a perfectly healthy child in the 40th week of pregnancy is morally acceptable. I cannot support either of these extreme positions.

“I - like most North Carolinians - think abortion is a complicated issue without absolute answers. Abortion is an unpleasant subject for many women, and I know of no woman that considered having an abortion that did so flippantly or unseriously. Despite what some people on the fringes may claim, contemplating an abortion is a grave decision, not a choice I’ve ever known anyone to celebrate.

“After extensive review, I believe this bill strikes a reasonable balance on the abortion issue and represents a middle ground that anyone not holding one of the two extremist positions can support.

“This legislation gives women continued access to elective abortions during the first trimester of a pregnancy in consultation with their doctor. This is the timeframe when most abortions occur. However, this bill ends elective late term abortions in North Carolina. While crucially providing exceptions for rape, incest, severe fetal abnormalities, and to protect the life of the mother. Women continue to be guaranteed unrestricted care in the event of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

“I insisted that any abortion legislation include meaningful support and protections to mothers and children to give them the best chance at a good life. This bill provides hundreds of millions of dollars in support for paid parental leave, maternal healthcare, foster care, contraception, and community college tuition and job placement supports to ensure that women and their children have choices, protections and pathways to success. Finally, this bill provides important protections to mothers and children by keeping weapons out of the hands of domestic abusers and ensuring sexual child predators have lifetime GPS monitoring and tracking.

“Some call me a hypocrite since I voted for this bill. They presume to know my story. As I said at the time, I had an ectopic pregnancy that sadly ended in miscarriage, not an elective abortion. In fact, Senate Bill 20 affirms the life-saving care I received in that dire situation. It was very important to me that this legislation protects all women going through a miscarriage or other complications - and it most certainly does.”

Senator Vickie Sawyer, Republican - District 37

“I firmly believe that this legislation [SB 20] is a mainstream bill that puts us in line with most industrialized nations and is far more reasonable to the majority of North Carolinians than other states across the nation. I highly encourage folks to read the bill and look at the provisions for exceptions. I will be voting to override the Governor’s veto of SB 20.”

NC Governor Roy Cooper

“Strong majorities of North Carolinians don’t want right-wing politicians in the exam room with women and their doctors, which is even more understandable today after several Republican lawmakers broke their promises to protect women’s reproductive freedom.

“For the last two weeks, Republican sponsors of this abortion ban have strenuously argued that it is much less restrictive than we warned, so we will now do everything in our power to make sure that’s true.

“North Carolinians now understand that Republicans are unified in their assault on women’s reproductive freedom and we are energized to fight back on this and other critical issues facing our state. I will continue doing everything I can to protect abortion access in North Carolina because women’s lives depend on it.”

NC Attorney General Josh Stein

“Today will go down as a shameful loss of freedom in our state. But make no mistake — this is only the beginning. In 2024, we’re up against politicians like Mark Robinson who want to make abortion illegal for any reason even in cases of rape or incest. Over the next 16 months and next November, we must choose freedom and we must win elections.”