North Carolina legislators overrode Governor Roy Cooper’s veto yesterday to enact SB 20, known as the “Care for Women, Children, and Families Act,” which prohibits the majority of abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The new law will take effect July 1 while the state’s current law continues to ban nearly all abortions after 20 weeks.
According to the 46-page bill, babies will be protected from both surgical and chemical abortions. While the law protects babies who have been in the womb for 12 weeks from surgical abortion, it also protects babies from chemical abortion beginning at a gestational age of 10 weeks. Additionally, physicians are now prohibited from mailing such drugs to pregnant women and must examine them in person before administering an abortion. Doctors must also ensure that “real-time views” and heart monitoring of unborn babies are available to pregnant women so they have the option to see the child and listen to their heartbeat.
For health care providers who object to taking part in an abortion, the legislation contains conscience protections and grants them the right to refuse participation “on moral, ethical, or religious grounds.” The new law also gives women the right to sue the health care providers involved if she feels she was coerced or misled prior to an abortion.
A provision in the bill also protects babies born alive after a failed abortion. The bill states, “If an abortion results in the live birth of an infant, the infant is a legal person for all purposes under the laws of North Carolina….” The provision requires any health care provider present at the time the child is born alive to: “(1) exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care provider would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age; and (2) ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.”
While the law protects unborn babies from being aborted due to discrimination based on sex, race, or Down syndrome, it does allow for some significant exceptions, such as allowing for abortions up to 20 weeks in cases of rape or incest. It also allows exceptions up to 24 weeks for other general “life limiting anomalies” where there is a “risk of still birth” or where there are “unpredictable and variable lengths of life” after birth.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The North Carolina state legislature did the right thing in overriding Governor’s Roy Cooper veto in order to protect unborn babies who have a right to live. This is not a political issue. This is a life issue. While this legislation is commendable, many abortions still take place before 12 weeks. So, more work needs to be done to protect all unborn children. We must continue to fight to make the womb a safe place once again.”