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'This bad bill needs a return to sender': Gov. Cooper vetoes abortion bill at rally


Gov. Roy Cooper gives a speech in front of a crowd during a protest event at Bicentennial Plaza in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, May 13, 2023. At the event, Cooper vetoed S.B. 20, a bill that would ban abortion at 12 weeks, with some exceptions.

On Saturday, May 13, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 20 — which would ban abortions in North Carolina after 12 weeks with some exceptions — in front of a crowd of doctors, politicians, clinic escorts and hundreds of pro-choice North Carolinians at Bicentennial Plaza in Raleigh.

The bill, named the Care for Women, Children, and Families Act, was passed by both houses of the N.C. General Assembly earlier this month.

Republicans recently gained a supermajority in the General Assembly, which would allow for Cooper’s veto to be overridden as it now returns to the legislature.

“Standing in the way of progress right now is this Republican supermajority legislature that only took 48 hours to turn the clock back 50 years,” Cooper said.

At the veto rally, Cooper and N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein, a candidate in the 2024 gubernatorial race, told attendees to email and call four members of the General Assembly who they said could help prevent a veto override — N.C. Reps. John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg), Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg), Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) and N.C. Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover). 

“If just one Republican in either the House or the Senate keeps their campaign promise to protect women’s reproductive health, we can stop this ban,” he said.

Voting is important to the state of reproductive rights, Stein said.

“We must win seats in the General Assembly, we must win seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court and we must win the governor's office in 2024,” he said. “If we don't, they will completely ban abortion in North Carolina.”

Cooper said the bill not only bans abortion after 12 weeks, but also bans medication abortion after 10 weeks and puts clinics across the state at risk of closing. 

“They say they passed this bill because they care about the lives of children, but why not invest significantly more to reduce infant mortality?” he said. 

Cooper said the bill has nothing to do with protecting women, but instead aims to restrict their rights.

“This bad bill needs a return to sender,” he said.

Currently, people seeking abortions in North Carolina must do an initial consultation either over the phone or in person, and wait 72 hours before having an abortion. S.B. 20 requires that this first consultation must take place in person.

Tina Marshall, the founder of the Black Abortion Defense League, said that she has seen an increase in patients who are tired from traveling long distances from outside the state after last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

The Black Abortion Defense League is a Charlotte-based group of clinic escorts led and centered by Black people. Marshall founded the group two years ago.

Abortion requires a tremendous amount of planning, especially for North Carolinians who are low-income or are from rural areas that may not have abortion clinics, she said.

“Imagine driving into your doctor's office, and having complete strangers block your car with their bodies in an attempt to keep you from getting to your appointment,” Marshall said. 

She also said that in the short time since S.B. 20 was passed by the General Assembly, she has seen abortion protestors become louder and more aggressive.

“We know that a majority of people who have an abortion already have kids at home, many of the patients I see have children with them when they arrive for their appointment,” she said. 

Dr. Katherine Farris, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said abortion bans like S.B. 20 create a chilling climate that interferes with doctors' abilities to provide effective medical care. 

She also said that S.B. 20 will especially harm North Carolinians who are low-income, live in rural areas, are people of color or identify as LGBTQ+.

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“My patients should be able to make the decision that is right for them,” she said.

The bill will now likely head back to the General Assembly for a veto override vote.


@DTHCityState |

Walker Livingston

Walker Livingston is the 2024 enterprise managing editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as summer city & state editor and assistant city & state editor. Walker is a sophomore pursuing a double major in journalism and media and American studies, with a minor in data science. 

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