Politics & Government

NC House schedules vote on ‘born alive’ abortion bill

Pro-life rally urges N.C. House to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 359

A group of about 200 people gathered near the Legislative Building Tuesday evening to urge members of the N.C. House follow their state Senate counterparts and override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 359.
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A group of about 200 people gathered near the Legislative Building Tuesday evening to urge members of the N.C. House follow their state Senate counterparts and override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 359.

North Carolina leaders have set a date to vote on a controversial abortion-related bill.

House Speaker Tim Moore announced on Wednesday that on June 5 he’ll call a vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 359, also known as the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act.” The NC Senate already voted to support the override in a narrow vote last month.

The bill instructs medical professionals to care specifically for newborns who survive an abortion. It would enact new punishments for physicians and nurses who don’t comply with the law or who fail to report noncompliance. They could face felony charges, prison time and up to $250,000 in fines.

Generally speaking, Democrats say the bill would bring more bureaucracy into complicated medical situations and discourage abortions that are medically necessary. Republicans, though, say the rules are needed to hold doctors accountable and protect infants’ lives.

“The bill sponsors believe they have secured the votes for their best case scenario, so we gave members plenty of notice that it’s time to take a stand on caring for children who are born alive in North Carolina and surviving on their own outside the womb, no matter the circumstances,” Moore told McClatchy in an email.

A west Raleigh women’s health clinic served as the backdrop for a rally to support women’s reproductive rights Tuesday. It was one of more than 500 planned across the country as a response to recent state laws that restrict abortions

Moore’s announcement may bring some predictability to a fluid situation.

The Republicans who control the House don’t have the 60 percent majority needed to override Cooper on their own. So they need enough Democrats to choose to support it, some Democrats to be absent when a vote is taken — or a combination of both scenarios. This practice is known as putting a bill in the “veto garage,” as The News & Observer previously reported.

The announcement also comes after Moore faced criticism for using the tactic. Last week, HuffPost reported, some Democrats accused Moore of exploiting a tough situation for Democratic Rep. Sydney Batch of Wake County, who’s fighting cancer.

Rep. Darren Jackson, a Wake County Democrat and the House minority leader, welcomed the vote.

“It’s past time to vote on this veto, stop with the scheduling games, and get on with tackling big issues like Medicaid expansion,” Jackson told The N&O in a text message.

In a statement released by Moore’s office, Republican Rep. Pat McElraft of Carteret County encouraged her peers to support the veto override.

“North Carolina’s leaders must take a stand together and say that we aren’t New York, we aren’t Virginia, we won’t allow or try to let a living, breathing child that is born alive be left to die on their own without any care in our state,” she said.

Local attorney Sydney Batch announced on Facebook Monday morning that she won’t campaign for the House District 37 seat for “several weeks” because she was recently diagnosed with “early, non-invasive breast cancer.”

Paul “Andy” Specht reports on North Carolina leaders and state politics for The News & Observer and PolitiFact. Specht previously covered Raleigh City Hall and town governments around the Triangle. He’s a Raleigh native who graduated from Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. Contact him at aspecht@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4870.

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