Raleigh — Both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly have passed Senate Bill 20, a ban on abortion after only 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill was passed using a procedural mechanism that allowed politicians to add the abortion ban and restrictions to unrelated legislation in the middle of night on Tuesday and ram the bill through the General Assembly in less than 48 hours, with few opportunities for North Carolinians to weigh in. This comes after politicians have met behind closed doors for months to advance their anti-abortion agenda without hearing from the public on the severe harms of banning abortion. The bill will now go to Governor Roy Cooper, who has vowed to veto the legislation.
“We are deeply disappointed with the decision to move forward with this harmful legislation, as it represents a blatant disregard for the rights and wishes of North Carolinians,” said ACLU of North Carolina Senior Policy Counsel Liz Barber. “Politicians in the General Assembly have advanced this bill in the shadows because they know how deeply unpopular banning abortion is in the state.
“Banning abortion after someone is pregnant for only 12 weeks will have devastating impacts on countless people who need access to essential care, but this harmful policy goes even further. If SB 20 is allowed to become law, it will severely compromise access during the narrow window when care is legal before 12 weeks of pregnancy as well — condemning North Carolinians to the nightmare of forced pregnancy and childbirth against their will.
“We will not back down in the face of such injustice. We will continue to stand in solidarity with allies, coalition partners, and the community to hold legislative leaders accountable for passing laws that will do far more harm than good.”
The proposed legislation seeks to impose numerous obstacles that could make it extremely difficult for individuals to receive care within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. These obstacles include mandating that patients make up to three separate visits to a provider, with a 72-hour waiting period in between the first and second in-person visits, thereby increasing the burden of an already lengthy mandatory delay requirement that is the longest in the country. In addition, the legislation would prohibit the use of medication abortion after 10 weeks of pregnancy, despite overwhelming medical evidence showing that it can be safely administered after that point.
The bill could also have a severe impact on the health of patients experiencing miscarriages and pregnancy complications by putting healthcare providers in the untenable position of deciding whether to withhold necessary medical care in order to comply with the law’s confusing, non-medical terminology, or care for patients and risk violating the law. In other states that have imposed abortion bans, patients experiencing miscarriages and other pregnancy complications have had their health and lives put in jeopardy as a result of the bans. North Carolina politicians could condemn North Carolinians to a similar fate by playing politics with patients’ health.
Protesters gathered yesterday in downtown Raleigh to oppose the bill, then filled the House chamber seats and crowded around the windows to show lawmakers what they think of this bill. Despite not being given the opportunity to speak by the General Assembly, the people made sure their voices would be heard.
“Abortion is healthcare and is a private decision that should be made between the individual and their doctor,” said Chantal Stevens, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Personal autonomy is a fundamental human right, and no legislative body should be empowered to infringe upon that. The ACLU of North Carolina is dedicated to continuing the fight for reproductive rights and ensuring that the people of North Carolina can make decisions that are best for their lives and families.”
Members of the public should encourage Governor Cooper to veto the bill and tell their legislators not to pursue a veto override.
Additionally, anyone concerned about accessing abortion care in North Carolinas should visit our abortion guide. While the legislature is attempting to push abortion care out of reach, abortion is still legal in North Carolina, and you have a right to access the care you need.