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Home U.S. Abortion Showdown in North Carolina May Hinge on a Single Vote

Abortion Showdown in North Carolina May Hinge on a Single Vote

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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, now nearing the end of his second term, has suddenly returned to the campaign.

Surrounded by supporters in a fifth-floor classroom at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington Wednesday, Mr. Cooper addressed residents directly. But he wasn’t asking for thousands of votes. Only one thing.

The Republican-majority North Carolina legislature has passed a bill banning most abortions after 12 weeks. Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed the bill. But Cooper is urging voters to pressure Republicans to prevent Congress from using its overwhelming majority to override his veto. Persuade just one legislator to keep the state’s current abortion law, which allows up to 20 weeks.

In Wilmington, he urged voters to send a message to Congressional representatives. “I ask you to keep your promises” to keep existing abortion laws, he said, referring to Republican lawmakers who have previously shown some support for access to abortion.

“Whether it’s a phone call, an email, a text message,” let them know, he said.

Mr. Cooper’s plea and the confrontation between the governor’s office and Congress represent an extraordinary moment not only in North Carolina politics, but also in the country’s volatile abortion struggle.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, states are free to severely limit or prohibit the process, and many southern states are doing just that. As a result, North Carolina has become a haven for local women who could not get abortions in their home state.

For North Carolina, the void vote would be an important early test for the Republican Party’s new minority supermajority, as former Democrat Tricia Cozam switched parties in April and voted in favor of the ban.

The null votes in both houses, which require three-fifths of the members present to pass, have not yet been scheduled. But state legislators and lobbyists said they expected a vote on the bill over the weekend, possibly as soon as this week.

Republicans say the bill is a compromise, less restrictive than other prohibitions that would outlaw the procedure during pregnancy or before most women know they are pregnant. Democrats say the bill would be a disaster for women’s health and would create all sorts of financial and logistical obstacles that cut off access to abortion for many women. They complained that Republicans pushed the first votes into the floor in two 48-hour marathon sessions.

Meredith Poll In a February survey, 57% of respondents said they supported or extended the state’s current 20-week stay-at-home order. A further 35% wanted surgery limited to 15 weeks.

Lauren Horsch, chief of staff to Senate Republican leader Phil Berger, said the bill would “limit selective abortion in the second and third trimesters, help women and children, and increase the options available to women.” is the mainstream approach to ensuring In his statement, Berger said he looked forward to “promptly revoking” the veto.

“North Carolina is a state for life and there are people who want this bill to pass,” said Mallory Finch, who came to Raleigh on Saturday to protest the governor’s veto.

Democratic officials in districts across the state are trying to mobilize voters to oppose the bill. In New Hanover County, where Wilmington is located, party leaders have set up a telephone chain every three minutes to contact Republican Rep. Ted Davis Jr. and Wilmington Republican State Senator Michael V. Lee. Organized. one day last week. Cooper believes they may change their minds on the issue.

But Lee said the 12-week limit aligns with his thoughts on abortion. In a text message, he said Cooper misunderstood his own position on the issue.

“With exceptions, I believe women should have the right to choose to have an abortion early in their pregnancy (three months),” Lee wrote.

Davis has previously said he supports current North Carolina law. Cooper is also targeting the constituency of Rep. John Bradford, a fourth Republican who said he had “no intention” of curtailing the 20-week law just before last year’s election. Bradford did not respond to a request for comment.

Cosham, a former Charlotte-area educator and state legislator who returned to the North Carolina legislature this year after losing an unsuccessful bid for Congress, has stunned Democrats.

In announcing the decision, she said she had been bullied by the party and had fallen out of line with them on several issues, including school choice.

“The modern Democratic Party has become unrecognizable to me and to many people in this state and across this country,” she said during the announcement. “They kicked me out.”

Cossam has historically been an outspoken supporter of abortion rights. When she was a Democrat, she accused Republicans of playing doctor.she also spoke out in her public She spoke of her own tragic experience of a miscarriage that required medical intervention. “This decision was up to me, my husband, my doctor and my God. Yet she voted for a 12-week ban after changing her party.

Kosam did not respond to a request for comment.

Speaking Thursday at Modish Nail Spa in Mint Hill, a suburb of Charlotte, where Cosham lives, May Lopez said she was upset about the new abortion regulations.

“I feel terrible about this because I think they’re just disenfranchising women. I grew up in an era when my friends died,” said Lopez, who votes primarily for Democrats.

Charlotte pastor Frank McCullough and his wife, former teacher Barbara McCullough, voted for Cozam when they ran as Democrats last year. Both said they felt betrayed by her decision to switch parties and help the Republican Party pass more regulations on abortion.

“I don’t believe in abortion, but I believe women have the right to choose between themselves and God,” McCullough said. “We voted for you and you turned your back on us.”

People in Ms. Cossam’s constituency said it was characterized by a healthy presence of conservatives in favor of abortion control, while being Democratic-leaning.

Swimmers at the YWCA Aquatic Center were divided on Wednesday afternoon in Wilmington, part of Davis’ district.

“I am a Christian, believe life begins at conception, and am totally against abortion,” said retiree Joyce Woodard.

Emma Evans, a college student who watched her 4-year-old babysit her swimming class, said she was embarrassed by the passing of the anti-abortion bill.

“I don’t know anything about it, but I know I’m in favor of abortion,” she said. “Is it just a bunch of men making rules for women’s bodies? It doesn’t make sense to me.”

In an interview on Friday, Cooper appeared troubled by the political climate. During his six-plus years in office, he successfully vetoed more than 50 bills. Republicans fell just one vote short of North Carolina’s majority in the November midterm elections, threatening Republican control of the legislative process that could be overthrown by a single member’s absence. There is Mr. Cossam resigned from the party last month, robbing him of all remaining comfort.

“We knew the situation was precarious,” he said. “But then when Rep. Kosam switched sides and won a majority by one vote in each house, we knew it was going to be a tougher fight.”

“I’m afraid the woman will die,” he said.

Motivating voters is no easy task. Over the past week, many said they were dimly aware of the fight, even if they strongly supported or opposed access to abortion.

Nick Decker was waiting for a friend on Thursday at Crazy Pig, a barbecue joint in Bradford’s neighborhood. He said he was aware the governor was in town that week “to sway some legislators.”

“Charlotte and the metropolitan area are really blue areas,” he says. And he considered himself a supporter of the governor and state Democrats.

He said he was not aware of Republican leader Bradford’s position. But “I am very much in favor of the choice,” he added.

Brian Anderson contributed reporting from Davidson, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC.

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