© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoes the SB20 legislation limiting most abortions to the first trimester of pregnancy, a sharp drop from the state’s current limit of 20 weeks gestation, in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S. May 13, 2023. REUT

By Julia Harte

(Reuters) -North Carolina’s Republican-controlled state Senate on Tuesday voted to override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill banning most abortions after 12 weeks, sending it to the state House where another override vote would make it law.

The vote followed party lines, with all 30 Republicans voting to make most abortions illegal after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The House is expected to override the veto on Tuesday evening as well, unless one Republican breaks ranks with their party.

The legislature can override a veto with three-fifths of the members present in each chamber. Republicans hold a majority of exactly three-fifths in each chamber, 72-48 in the House and 30-20 in the Senate.

The legislature in early May passed the measure, which would cut the window for most abortions in the state back from 20 weeks. It would also curtail access to the procedure for millions of women across the U.S. South where a number of states have greatly restricted abortions.

Cooper vetoed the bill at a rally in Raleigh, the state capital, on Saturday, where he asked Republican lawmakers who had previously expressed support for reproductive rights to let his veto stand.

“If just one Republican keeps that promise made to the people, then we can stop this ban,” Cooper said.

The bill whizzed through the legislature with a party-line vote in fewer than 48 hours, passing the Senate 29-20 and the House 71-46. It would ban elective abortions after the first trimester, except in cases of rape, incest, life-limiting fetal anomalies and medical emergencies.

It would also require doctors to be present when abortion medication is given and require those seeking medical abortions to have an in-person consultation with a doctor 72 hours before the procedure. That would make it more difficult for women from out-of-state to obtain an abortion in North Carolina.

Republican lawmakers called the bill “common-sense legislation” that represented a compromise that stopped short of the more restrictive bans opposed by a majority of U.S. voters. Democratic opponents called it “devastatingly cruel,” and said it would force women into seeking illegal abortions.

The bill includes funding for foster and childcare as well as paid parental leave.

Near-total abortion bans have taken effect in 14 states since the U.S. Supreme Court revoked federal abortion rights in June 2022, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy research group.

Abortions in North Carolina rose by 37%, more than any other state, in the first two months after the ruling, according to a study by the Society of Family Planning, a nonprofit that promotes abortion rights and research.

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