'Only need 1': Gov. Roy Cooper begins week-long push to stop Republican abortion restrictions bill

WTVD logo
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Gov Cooper begins week-long push to stop abortion bill
On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper began his week-long push to try to defeat a Republican push to add more restrictions to abortions in North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper began his week-long push to try to defeat a Republican push to add more restrictions to abortions in North Carolina.

Republicans, emboldened by a recent party swap that gave them enough members to override vetoes by Cooper, recently passed Senate Bill 20. That bill slashes from 20 to 12 the number of weeks pregnant a woman can be to qualify for most abortions. It also places numerous restrictions on abortion providers and patients wanting abortion services; restrictions that critics say will make it nearly impossible for a woman to get an abortion.

Cooper said Tuesday that he plans to veto the bill Saturday. It will then go back to the General Assembly where Republican lawmakers are confident they have enough votes to override the veto and make the bill law anyway.

SEE ALSO | Questions raised about speed and transparency of North Carolina abortion bill vote

In a last-ditch effort, Cooper, a Democrat, announced he would be traveling to districts of four lawmakers who have voiced support for abortion rights and the current abortion laws in North Carolina.

"We really only need one. If all Democrats are present and accounted for -- and all Democrats have signed on to legislation that codifies Roe vs. Wade, who know that this is important protection for women's reproductive freedom across North Carolina -- if they are all present and accounted for, all we need is one Republican in either chamber," Cooper said.

His first stop was Tuesday outside of Charlotte. Cooper was joined by medical professionals, a supportive state lawmaker, a woman who had an abortion at age 14 and the owner of an abortion clinic. Together they talked about SB20 and why they believe it should not become law.

WATCH | Gov. Cooper hosts roundtable in attempt to stop abortion bill from becoming law

On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper began his week-long push to try and defeat a Republican push to add more restrictions to abortions in North Carolina.

Tuesday's event was intended to put pressure on Rep. John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg and Rep. Tricia Cotham, R-Mecklenburg; both have previously supported abortion rights.

Cotham won election in 2022 as a Democrat in a heavily Democratic district. In January 2023, Cotham even sponsored legislation that would have codified Roe v. Wade abortion protections into North Carolina law. In 2015, she testified on the House floor about having an abortion herself and saying things like wait times would create undue barriers for women who need the procedure.

WATCH: Some worry bill could affect other healthcare services

Some worry the bill to limit abortion could affect the way women who have miscarriages are medically treated,

But then in April, she switched parties. At the time she said, "I am still the same person, and I am going to do what I believe is right."

Cotham voted in favor of SB20 when it passed the NC House on Wednesday. She has not made any public comment on if or why her views on abortion have changed.

"She gave a very passionate speech on the House floor, about how the government needs to stay out of women's healthcare decisions," Cooper recalled. "Nothing has changed since then. A party label shouldn't change that fact. And if you want independent thought, this is a real time to exercise that independent thought and to stand up to your new party, like you stood up to your old party."

Bradford told ABC affiliate WSOC in October that he supported North Carolina's current law. Yet, he also voted for SB20 on Wednesday.

RELATED: What happens after Gov. Cooper vetoes bill limiting abortion?

He also told WSOC on Friday that he would not help Cooper sustain his veto citing perceived personal slights.

"(Cooper) wouldn't know me if he bumped into me," Bradford said. "In March he hosted a Down syndrome advocacy event and despite being the leading advocate for Down syndrome in the state legislature, I was excluded...Last session I was the primary bill sponsor for an organ donor transplant discrimination bill. He held a public bill signing event but chose not to invite me, the No. 1 primary sponsor and Republican, and instead invited a Democrat legislator."

Cooper plans to hold similar roundtables in New Hanover County and Guilford County.

New Hanover is the home of Rep. Ted Davis and Sen. Michael Lee.

Lee said he supports SB20. He said he is and has always been against bans on abortion in the first trimester. He said this bill still allows for abortions up until the start of the second trimester.

Cooper and other critics of the bill say that while it expressly bans abortion starting in the second trimester, other provisions and restrictions in the bill (such as waiting periods, new licensing rules and added paperwork) would effectively stop many abortions in the first trimester as well.

"Experts confirm that this legislation is not a 12-week ban as Republicans claim but an extreme bill that bans many abortions altogether," Cooper said.

As for Rep. Davis, he is the lone member of the four cited by Cooper who did not vote for SB20. Instead, he abstained from the vote altogether. If he does that during the veto override attempt, the veto override would fail.

Davis said during an October town hall that he supported the current 20-week law. He also previously touted his independence, saying that when he disagreed with his party and House Speaker Tim Moore on a bill he would always do what he thought was "best for the people I represent."

Below: Read the bill for yourself