RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Before he vetoes the bill Republicans in the General Assembly recently passed restricting abortion access, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) will travel the state this week trying to put pressure on at least one Republican to vote to sustain his veto.
Cooper is focusing his effort on four Republicans who made statements last year about preserving access to abortion.
“So, what I’m doing is trying to educate the public about the disaster that this bill is. And, I’m going to go into their districts,” Gov. Cooper told CBS on Sunday.
The bill restricts abortion after 12 weeks allowing for exceptions for rape, incest, protecting the mother’s life and for fetal abnormalities. It also implements new regulations in the first trimester, including requiring additional in-person visits and reporting information to the state.
Republican state Reps. Tricia Cotham and John Bradford, who both represent Mecklenburg County, voted in favor of the bill last week. Cotham advocated last year for expanding abortion access while Bradford said he would not seek additional restrictions, according to Axios Charlotte. Neither has responded to requests for comment over the last several days.
Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) did not vote on the bill last week and said during last year’s campaign the law should stay as it is, restricting abortion after 20 weeks. While Republican leaders say they have commitments from every Republican to vote to override Gov. Cooper, Rep. Davis declined to comment again Monday about his position on the bill.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee, who also represents New Hanover County, said the bill reflects what he told voters he would support. Last week, he told CBS 17 that Cooper is “lying” about his position.
“Because of our numbers being so tight in the General Assembly, literally just one person making a different decision could make a difference in the lives of millions and millions in our state,” said Rep. Julie von Haefen (D-Wake). “A lot of people made a lot of assertions, promises and statements on the campaign trail about their position on abortion. And, I think what he’s trying to do is keep them accountable.”
Cooper told CBS he’ll be joined by doctors and advocates for abortion rights in Mecklenburg and New Hanover counties, where the four Republicans live. He’ll also conduct a roundtable event in Guilford County.
“The governor put pressure on members of his own party to vote against their consciences and apparently was successful. And, now, he’s pressuring people that are not members of his party,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition. “I think he’s out of options, and he’s now resorted to bullying.”
Alison Kiser, senior director of external affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said the bill could lead to some clinics closing if they are unable to meet new standards outlined in the bill.
“Many pledges were made to protect and defend reproductive freedom because people know that’s what their constituents want their elected officials to do,” she said. “We do hope that the folks who made these pledges to their constituents will be true to their word.”
Gov. Cooper has until Sunday to veto the legislation.
Republicans have precisely the number of members they need to have a veto-proof supermajority in each chamber. If all Democrats are present and voting when Republicans attempt to override Cooper, then the GOP would need every one of its members present and voting as well for the override to be successful.
There are provisions in the House and Senate rules that allow for legislators to try again if they are unable to override the governor.
“We do not anticipate that this will be necessary for S20 or any other bills this session,” said Neal Inman, chief of staff to House Speaker Tim Moore (R) in an email Monday.