RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The General Assembly gave final approval to a bill Thursday that would ban abortions on the basis of race or the presumed presence of Down syndrome, sending the bill to Gov. Roy Cooper (D) who is likely to veto it.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 27-20 in a party-line vote, as Republicans tried to cast the measure as dealing with discrimination.
“Children should not have to pass a genetic test to earn the right to be born,” said Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), one of the leading proponents of the bill. “This is eugenics in its worst form. This bill will eliminate that atrocity.”
Democrats criticized Republicans for claiming that the bill was about eugenics, referring to the program the state had for decades that included forced sterilization and disproportionately impacted Black people and Native Americans, according to the state’s Eugenics Board.
“To label an individual’s decision to obtain an abortion as eugenics, as this bill does, is offensive, irresponsible,” said Sen. Natalie Murdock (D-Durham).
The Associated Press reported that a federal court in Tennessee recently upheld a similar law, and a federal appeals court reversed decisions blocking a law in Ohio.
“Across the nation, people are sending a clear message to pro-abortion politicians and to the Supreme Court: the extreme status quo imposed by Roe v. Wade has been rejected. State legislators, acting on the will of their constituents, have approved more than 80 pro-life laws in this year alone,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List following the vote.
Current law in North Carolina already bans abortions based on sex.
Under the bill, doctors would have to attest that the woman did not tell them race, sex or Down syndrome were factors in their decision or that they do not have reason to believe a woman sought an abortion for those reasons.
Tara Muller, a policy attorney at Disability Rights North Carolina, recently told a Senate committee her group opposes the bill.
“People with disabilities have, for decades, faced restrictions on the body and what they can do with their body,” said Muller.
When the bill passed the House last month, six Democrats voted with the Republicans in favor of it, which would be enough to override a veto. However, in the Senate, no Democrats voted for the bill Thursday.