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North Carolina Legislature Adopts Ban on Abortions after 12 Weeks

Yesterday, the North Carolina legislature approved S.B. 20, which is entitled the "Care for Women, Children and Families Act." That's a characteristically spin-ny name; the bill bans surgical abortions after 12 weeks, excepting in cases of rape and incest (20 weeks) and life-limiting anomalies in the fetus (24 weeks).

The bill will be vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC), and then the legislature will consider overriding his veto. Assuming all members vote as they did yesterday, the override will be successful. To the extent there is a wildcard, it's state Rep. Tricia Cotham. She was a Democrat until earlier this year, one who ran on protecting access to abortion and who introduced legislation to codify Roe v. Wade. Then, she switched to being a Republican, which is what gave the GOP the supermajority in the assembly necessary for overriding vetoes. Cotham voted in favor of the abortion ban, and presumably would vote to override a veto, although someone who does such a rapid 180 on such an important issue has to be deemed at least somewhat unpredictable, right?

We are hardly experts in the politics of North Carolina (though some of our readers certainly are). That said, we do know a few things:

Add it up, and it looks to us like North Carolina Republicans are playing with fire here. We could certainly imagine a situation where the abortion legislation (perhaps coupled with a nutter like Mark Robinson being the GOP nominee for governor) persuades the state's Democrats to turn out in droves. And if that happens, Republicans could lose any or all of the state House, the state Senate, the governorship and the presidential contest.

Clearly, the folks running the show in the state legislature are sensitive to this risk, which is why they passed an abortion ban that's aggressive, but not as aggressive as the ones passed in redder states. We shall see if a 12-week ban (plus exceptions) is strict enough to keep the anti-abortion crowd happy without rousing the pro-choice crowd into a fury. (Z)

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