Cooper vetoes pro-life bill, 56th veto as governor

Gov. Roy Cooper briefs media at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo via N.C. Dept. of Public Safety

RALEIGH – Gov. Roy Cooper announced he vetoed House Bill 453 on Friday, a measure that would have prohibited individuals from performing an abortion unless a physician has confirmed the abortion is not being sought because of the actual or presumed race or sex of the unborn child or the presence or presumed presence of Down syndrome.

In a statement accompanying the veto, Cooper said, “This bill gives the government control over what happens and what is said in the exam room between a woman and her doctor at a time she faces one of the most difficult decisions of her life. This bill is unconstitutional and it damages the doctor-patient relationship with an unprecedented government intrusion.”

Currently, six states have laws prohibiting abortions motivated by the race of the child and fourteen states, including North Carolina, already have laws prohibiting sex-selective abortions. Nine other states have prohibited abortions motivated by a child’s disability.

During debate in the N.C. House of Representatives in May, state Rep. Kristin Baker (R-Cabarrus) said of the bill, ”As a child psychiatrist and physician who has spent my life defending the most vulnerable, I think we as a society will be judged by whether or not we protect those who not or cannot speak for themselves. We should all be able to agree that no one should be denied the right to live because of his or her race, gender or disability.”

State Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) said the measure prevents discrimination and “modern-day eugenics.”

“Children should not have to pass a genetic test to earn the right to be born,” Krawiec said.

In a statement minutes following Cooper’s veto, state Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance) said, “With a stroke of his pen, Gov. Cooper just told North Carolinians that it’s OK to discriminate based on race or disability as long as it’s in the womb. It shouldn’t be controversial to protect an unborn child with Down syndrome, but Gov. Cooper proves once again that he’s unwilling to stand up for North Carolinians when his left-wing donors demand his loyalty.”

The Associated Press reported that the American Civil Liberties of Union of North Carolina and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic urged Cooper to reject the proposal.

“Politicians should never have control over private family decisions nor should they force a person to carry a pregnancy to term against their will,” said a statement from Susanna Birdsong, North Carolina director of public affairs of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.

The bill passed the N.C. House by a vote of 67-42 with the support of six Democrats. The Senate passed the bill by a party-line vote of 27-20.

Gov. Cooper has now vetoed three bills in the 2021-22 legislative biennium.

Also Friday, Cooper signed three bills into law and let a measure to move some municipal elections to 2022 become law without his signature.