North Carolina House fails to override governor's veto of 'born alive' abortion bill

North Carolina House fails to override governor's veto of 'born alive' abortion bill
© Stefani Reynolds

North Carolina lawmakers Wednesday failed to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto of a “born alive” abortion bill.

The legislation would have required medical professionals to provide the same care to an infant who survives an abortion as they would to any other newborn. Though most members of the state House supported the veto override, 67-53, the legislation failed to get the 60 percent supermajority needed to overturn Cooper’s decision.

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The original bill, which passed both houses of the state legislature largely along party lines, was advertised by Republicans as an attempt to prevent infanticide rather than to prevent abortions.

Should the bill have become law, providers who did not comply would have been found guilty of a felony and fined up to $250,000. The legislation adds that anyone who intentionally “performs an overt act” that kills a child “born alive” could be guilty of murder.

Democrats slammed the legislation as an effort to dissuade doctors and nurses from participating in legal abortions.

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

Every Republican and one Democrat voted to override Cooper, while the remaining 53 Democrats in the chamber stuck with the governor. 

A similar “born alive” bill failed in the U.S. Senate in February.

The failed North Carolina bill is part of a broader effort across the country to restrict abortion access. A slate of conservative states have adopted stringent limitations on the procedure, with many seeking to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, often around six weeks into a pregnancy. Alabama went the furthest by completely banning the procedure unless the mother’s life is at risk. 

Proponents of the movement say they hope to spark a Supreme Court challenge that could potentially overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that first legalized abortion.