Monday, May 8, 2023

An Analysis of North Carolina's New Abortion Bill

By Rebecca J. Kreitzer

Editor’s note: with the high visibility regarding Senate Bill 20, which the North Carolina General Assembly introduced and passed last week, ONSP asked an expert on abortion policy, Dr. Rebecca Kreitzer, to offer her analysis on the bill and its potential impacts as a special contribution to the blog. Her views do not represent the opinions of her home academic institution.

Recently, the North Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 20, a process that saw the bill's introduction to final adoption completed in less than two days. Ostensibly entitled "Care for Women, Children and Families Act," the first half of the bill restricts access to abortion in numerous ways before tacking on an assortment of policy changes to "improve infant and maternal health." However, the law's provisions make little impact on improving healthcare for women or children, and likewise it shouldn't be referred to as a "12 week abortion ban" because the restrictions on abortion begin earlier than 12 weeks and go far beyond gestational bans. 

In total, about 48 hours transpired between the content of the bill becoming public and the bill passing the Senate and getting sent to Governor Cooper –  notably shorter than the mandatory waiting period the law requires for patients seeking abortion to reflect on their decision. Governor Cooper will veto the bill. However, with State Representative Tricia Cotham becoming a Republican only months after campaigning on a platform of expanding access to abortion, the Republicans now have a slim veto-proof supermajority in both chambers to override the governor’s objections and make the bill law. Republican legislators in the General Assembly have maximized their chances at overriding a veto, including changing chamber rules to allow veto override votes to be taken without any prior notice.