NC governor vetoes 'born alive' abortion bill

NC governor vetoes 'born alive' abortion bill
© Stefani Reynolds

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) on Thursday vetoed a “born alive” abortion bill, arguing the legislation is unnecessary because the practice doesn’t exist.

The measure would establish new criminal penalties for infanticide by requiring doctors and nurses to provide the same level of care to an infant that survives an abortion as they would to any other newborn.

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

Cooper’s veto could set up an override attempt in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, though Democrats won enough seats in the 2018 election to take away the GOP's supermajority.

Veto overrides require support from 60 percent of the legislators present.

The bill passed the state House and Senate mostly along party lines.

Democrats have argued that infanticide is already illegal, and that the legislation is an attempt to discourage doctors and nurses from participating in legal abortions.

Republicans counter that the legislation is designed to protect children and is not meant to be anti-abortion.

Under the legislation, a health care provider must "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child” who survives an abortion as they would to “any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”

Providers who do not comply could be found guilty of a felony and fined up to $250,000. Additionally, anyone who intentionally "performs an overt act" that kills a child “born alive” could be guilty of murder.

A similar measure failed in the U.S. Senate in February.

On the other side of the U.S. Capitol, Republican leaders are trying to circumvent Democratic control of the House floor by introducing a discharge petition that would force a vote on the legislation.