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Rowan legislators react to governor’s veto on ‘born-alive’ bill

Legislators

Carl Ford

Larry Pittman

By Liz Moomey

liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Rowan County legislators supported a bill that would define a doctor’s responsibilities if a later-term abortion led to a live birth, but last week Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the “born-alive” legislation. 

Now, it’s unclear whether a veto override will be held or if such a vote would pass.

Sen. Carl Ford, R-33, was a sponsor of the vetoed bill, S.B. 359. Rep. Larry Pittman, R-83, was a sponsor of a companion bill in the House, H.B. 602.

Ford, who considers himself pro-life, said the bill was a response to other bills filed in the state legislatures of New York and Virginia that eased restrictions on late-term abortions. The bill in North Carolina, he said, “would make sure the baby is taken care of.”

“It’s a new patient,” Ford said. “If it’s a new patient, are we going to say to murder the patient?”

Pittman said he supported the legislation because refusing medical aid to a child born alive — despite an abortion attempt — is inhuman.

Pittman also referenced the New York abortion legislation that was signed into law in January.

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

Both Reps. Julia Howard, R-77, and Harry Warren, R-76, said they did not know anyone who was born in a late-term abortion or someone who was personally affected.

“How often is this going to happen?” Howard asked. “I don’t know. The child is to be cared for until it passes away or does survive.”

If there was one case, it’s one case too many, Warren said.

Pittman said he has heard of cases and has also met Gianna Jessen, an anti-abortion advocate who survived her mother’s abortion attempt. Pittman said he does not know if any of his constituents have been involved in an abortion attempt.

Ford said he’s heard stories nationwide about abortions not being successful. He said they are few and far between because there aren’t reports. People would have to come forward to say it happened to them, Ford said.

The bill passed the Senate and House mostly along party lines. Two Republican senators and four Republican representatives voted for the born-alive legislation. 

Howard said she doesn’t think Republicans have the votes for an override of Cooper’s veto. She added Cooper is a compassionate person that she knows well, but the veto was politically motivated to help in his run for re-election.

Warren said he was flabbergasted by the veto and voting against the bill is unconscionable.

Pittman said an override is possible but not likely.

“I am for holding the vote to override and let our citizens see who stands for the sacredness of human life and who doesn’t in our state government,” Pittman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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