POLITICS

North Carolina Democrats Successfully Block ‘Born Alive’ Anti-Abortion Bill

Democratic lawmakers fought through dirty tactics from their GOP colleagues to sustain Gov. Roy Cooper's (D) veto of an extreme anti-abortion bill.

After weeks of dirty tactics from their GOP colleagues, Democrats in North Carolina’s House of Representatives successfully sustained Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto of an extreme anti-abortion bill on Wednesday. 

The majority of the House actually voted in favor of overriding Cooper’s veto of the controversial “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” in a 67-53 vote. But the legislative body failed to get the 60% supermajority needed to overturn the governor’s veto.

The “Born Alive” measure threatens prison time for medical professionals who do not provide necessary medical care to an infant born alive during an abortion later in pregnancy ― a vanishingly rare event. Many opponents of the measure note that murder and infanticide are already illegal. They argue that the real purpose of this kind of bill is to energize the conservative base and create additional obstacles for people seeking abortions.

State Rep. Sydney Batch was at the center of her GOP colleagues’ dirty tactics. Batch underwent a mastectomy in early May after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She was forced to come back to work early after she and other Democrats realized the Republicans were trying to capitalize on her absence in order to push the bill through.

Batch showed up to session every single time, even though House Speaker Tim Moore (R) rescheduled the veto-override vote at least 10 times. Batch and other Democrats told HuffPost in May that the move was done in hopes that enough Democrats would eventually be absent that GOP members could override Cooper’s veto.

“I am immensely proud of all my Democratic colleagues for standing together yesterday and protecting the right of women to make their own healthcare decisions,” Batch told HuffPost on Thursday.

“For too long the Republican leadership in the NC House has used their power to push an extreme agenda, but thankfully, we can now check that abuse of power with Governor Cooper,” she continued. “I am looking forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of my constituents and moving forward with my recovery.”

Moore denied that he and other Republicans were capitalizing on Batch’s condition. In May, his team insisted to HuffPost that they were following “the standard House procedure of noticing a veto override on the calendar ahead of time.”

Cooper vetoed the measure in April, calling the legislation “needless” and adding that it would “criminalize doctors and other healthcare providers for a practice that simply does not exist.” 

Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, commended Cooper and other reproductive justice advocates in North Carolina in a Wednesday statement to HuffPost.

“Thanks to their leadership, we have defended doctors from being criminalized for doing their jobs and ensured that abortion care is treated as the medical care it is,” she wrote. “At a time when we are seeing unprecedented assaults on our rights and freedoms by anti-abortion politicians across the country, now more than ever we must protect patients’ rights and freedoms. Because abortion care is health care, and healthcare is a fundamental human right.

Similar “born alive” measures have been considered on the federal level, but failed. In March, a North Carolina federal court struck down a 20-week abortion ban.

CONVERSATIONS