RALEIGH, N.C. — As hundreds rallied for abortion rights in downtown Raleigh, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the 12-week abortion ban passed by the North Carolina legislature.
The GOP-led General Assembly passed a bill this month banning most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy and the Democratic governor quickly vowed to veto it.
“This bill has nothing to do with making women safer and everything to do with banning abortion,” Cooper said before signing the veto from the podium.
“Veto, veto, veto,” the crowd chanted.
“How about leaving the medicine to the doctors and the decision to the women?” the governor said.
In North Carolina, abortion is currently legal through 20 weeks of pregnancy. There is a 72-hour waiting period from a woman’s first appointment with an abortion provider to getting the procedure or medication. The GOP bill has exceptions for rape and incest, the life of the mother and life-limiting fetal abnormalities.
Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat who is running for governor in 2024, said at the rally before Cooper spoke that the bill would “severely restrict all forms of reproductive health care.”
“The Republicans in the General Assembly do not trust the women of North Carolina,” he told the crowd.
Republican legislative leaders are expected to try to override the governor's veto. The party has a supermajority in both the state House and Senate but will have to keep all its members on the same page to overcome the veto.
"We applaud the Republican majority for passing this reasonable legislation to further protect life and help mothers in N.C.," Jeff Moore, a spokesman for the N.C. GOP, said in a statement Friday. "Despite the governor's rhetoric, this proposal is well within the mainstream of public opinion and we look forward to an override of his promised veto."
The rally filled much of Bicentennial Mall, between the General Assembly and the old State Capitol. Doctors, abortion-rights leaders and prominent Democrats took to the stage on the south end of the mall.
A small anti-abortion rally set up across the street in front of the General Assembly, but there was little interaction between the opposing sides.
The bill was negotiated behind closed doors and avoided the usual procedure of committee hearings and debate. Republicans released the proposal on May 2. Less than 48 hours later, it had passed both chambers of the General Assembly on party-line votes.
Cooper has tried to gather support for his veto, making visits this week to Mecklenburg, New Hanover and Alamance counties to pressure legislators who had campaigned last year against this type of ban in North Carolina.
At Saturday’s rally, Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Alexis McGill Johnson said people should continue calling and writing their legislators to try to flip at least one vote on the veto override.
“It has been 10 months since the Supreme Court took away our power to control our bodies and gave it to the states,” she said.
“We are in a moment,” Johnson said. “Show these politicians that we won’t back down.”