• 66°

Gov. Cooper vetoes ‘born-alive’ abortion legislation

 By Gary D. Robertson

Associated Press

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a measure Thursday written by Republican lawmakers and backed by social conservatives that addresses a doctor’s responsibilities if a later-term abortion results in an infant born alive.

Cooper, a Democrat, announced his decision two days after the General Assembly sent him a bill telling health care practitioners to grant those newborns the same protections as other patients. Those who don’t could face a felony and active prison time, along with fines and potential civil damages.

Cooper’s veto message echoed some comments of abortion-rights supporters opposed to the “born-alive” measure. They also said in committees and floor debate that the legislation was designed to intimidate women and physicians and ultimately chip away at the constitutionally protected right to an abortion.

“Laws already protect newborn babies, and this bill is an unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients,” Cooper wrote. “This needless legislation would criminalize doctors and other health care providers for a practice that simply does not exist.”

It’s unclear if Republicans holding House and Senate majorities can override Cooper’s veto — his first since Democrats made enough seat gains in November to eliminate the GOP’s veto-proof control.

Two Senate Democrats and four House Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for the measure earlier this week. Bill supporters likely would need another few House Democrats to join them to complete an override of the veto.

“This bill really transcends the traditional Republican-Democrat divide,” said Republican Senate leader Phil Berger, who expected an override vote in his chamber.

He described opposition to the bill as support for “ending a child’s life after that child has been born.”

Anti-abortion groups, who argue the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” would protect children born alive after botched abortions and who otherwise would be left to die, blasted Cooper’s decision.

The state’s murder statutes also would be expanded in the measure to apply to an “intentional, overt act” after a child is born alive.

“Shame on Gov. Cooper for siding with extremists against innocent children and the will of his constituents,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national Susan B. Anthony List, which supports anti-abortion candidates.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican planning a run to unseat Cooper in 2020, also lamented the veto.

Democrats speaking against the bill say North Carolina already has laws on the books against infanticide, doctors already are regulated by medical boards and physicians aren’t neglecting these newborns.

Sen. Terry Van Duyn, a Democrat running for lieutenant governor in 2020 and a vocal opponent of the measure, thanked Cooper for the veto.

The bill’s supporters have provided written testimony of adults who saw or survived botched abortions. How often situations occur when doctors have neglected these live infants are unclear.

The North Carolina Values Coalition said five states have reported at least 25 children were born alive during attempted abortions in 2017. North Carolina keeps no such statistics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 140 infant deaths involved induced terminations nationwide from 2003 to 2014. It hasn’t specified what level of care those newborns received.

The bill reflects a recent uptick in abortion legislation from both sides of the issue in several states. A Texas “born-alive” bill is close to reaching GOP Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

North Carolina bill supporters say they were encouraged to pass their measure after comments earlier this year by Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam in favor of legislation that would have eased restrictions on late-term abortions.

North Carolina Republicans have passed abortion restrictions this decade. But a state law adjusted in 2015 to limit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy to only those during a medical emergency was struck down recently by a federal judge. The decision’s enforcement has been delayed for now.

Cooper vetoed 28 bills in his first two years in office — more than any governor in a four-year term. Republicans overrode 23 of them, but their party lost its veto-proof majority in the 2018 elections.

Comments

Crime

Salisbury Police investigating two shootings

Crime

Chase involving Kernersville man ends in woods behind Carson High School

News Main

North Rowan girls end season with playoff loss to Murphy

Education

Rowan-Salisbury EC department plunges in place after raising $1,300 for Special Olympics

Nation/World

Tiger Woods injured in car crash, has surgery on legs

Local

Local stakeholders set goals, direction to tackle city’s housing issues

Education

RSS board talks future of Henderson Independent School

Coronavirus

One new COVID-19 death, 23 new positives reported Tuesday

Local

Concord to create fallen officer memorial featuring Rowan native Shuping

Crime

20-year-old man faces rape charges

Crime

Blotter: Man charged after shooting gun during argument

Local

UPDATE: Missing Salisbury man found

Education

RSS board votes to use upset bid process on Faith property

Local

Committee to soon accept artist applications for ‘Paint the Pavement’ project

BREAKING NEWS

RSS board votes to send elementary students to in-person classes four days per week

Coronavirus

County to administer nearly 1,700 vaccines this week

News

Political Notebook: Rep. Howard named ‘hospitality champion’ by North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association

Crime

Blotter: Gunshot fired into home on North Oakhurst Drive

Local

Teenager reported missing in Salisbury

Local

‘Everybody needs an Aunt Libby:’ Family celebrates 100th birthday of Rockwell doctor Elizabeth Lombard

Ask Us

Ask Us: Why is Rowan EMS no longer transporting some patients outside of county?

Crime

Blotter: Feb. 21

Nation/World

FAA orders United to inspect Boeing 777s after emergency

Coronavirus

US coronavirus death toll approaches milestone of 500,000