After a controversial abortion bill passed in the North Carolina Senate 28-19, it was sent to Gov. Roy Cooper and ultimately vetoed.
Senate Bill 359, also known as the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” was introduced in the General Assembly in March. The bill stated that if an abortion attempt results in the live birth of an infant, the infant is a legal person for all purposes under the laws of North Carolina and entitled to care from the hospital, clinic or facility.
The bill would have created new criminal and civil penalties for infanticide. These punishments would apply to doctors and nurses who failed to provide care for a surviving newborn. These punishments could include felony charges and a fine up to $250,000.
On April 18, Cooper vetoed the bill and released a statement that explained his reason for doing so. He said legislation to protect newborn babies is already in place, so this bill is ultimately unnecessary.
“This needless legislation would criminalize doctors and other healthcare providers for a practice that simply does not exist,” Cooper said in the statement.
Following the veto, two of the bill’s primary sponsors, N.C. Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-District 31, and N.C. Rep. Pat McElraft, R-District 13, issued a statement in response.
“Caring for a living, breathing, newborn infant is too restrictive for Governor Cooper’s radical abortion agenda,” they said in the statement. “We thought Democrats would agree that children born alive should be separate from the abortion debate, but it’s clear that they want the ‘right to choose’ to even extend past birth.”
Krawiec also shared a petition on her campaign Facebook page, urging her followers to add their names in support of overriding Cooper’s veto.
After the bill passed, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina sent a letter to Cooper that urged him to veto the bill, stating that it would “interfere with the patient-provider relationship, target health care providers and mislead the public about safe, legal abortion care.”
Molly Rivera, communications associate at N.C. ACLU, said the association follows legislation in the state to ensure that constitutional rights are being protected. The organization, she said, felt SB 359 was an anti-abortion bill that attempted to insert political ideology into medical practice.
“We felt that it was an overreach of the legislative branch of government,” Rivera said. “And it showed a callous disregard for patients in need of evidence-based care.”
Rivera said the N.C. ACLU followed the bill through the legislative process, and when it was passed, they decided to send the letter urging Cooper to veto it.
Tara Romano, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, agreed the bill was an attempt to spread misinformation about abortion practice.
“The language in this bill is not based in medical science or fact, and seeks to demonize and intimidate physicians caring for patients facing complex medical situations,” Romano said in an email.
NARAL N.C. is a statewide advocacy group that supports the availability and accessibility of reproductive health care options for people across North Carolina, including preventative care, termination options and full-term support.
“The true goals of this bill are to mislead the public with extreme accusations, interfere in the doctor/patient relationship, and create a false narrative around abortion in attempt to further shame patients and restrict abortion access,” Romano said. “We appreciate the governor vetoing this unnecessary and inflammatory bill.”
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