Abortion access under threat in haven states of North Carolina, Florida and Nebraska


In the months following the fall of Roe v. WadeNorth Carolina experienced the largest increase in abortions of any state — its numbers fueled by a relatively permissive law and a Democratic governor who vowed to block the Republican-led legislature from enacting anti-abortion measures.

But hard-liners in Raleigh in recent weeks have launched plans to overturn the future veto and ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

At the heart of the effort are a handful of Democratic lawmakers who have a history of voting for abortion legislation and who could now provide the GOP with enough votes to override a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper (D). The group, which includes two pastors from predominantly black Baptist churches, is facing pressure from both sides.

“I go to bed with it, I wake up with it,” said state Rep. Garland Pierce (D), who leads the congregation at Bright Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Laurinburg, N.C., “when you’re deep. You have to be sure you’re doing the right thing.”

The showdown in North Carolina mirrors similar efforts underway in several conservative states that have become benchmarks for the latter.cotton wool Abortion care. In Florida and Nebraska — where the laws still allow the majority of abortions — conservatives are also pushing for a six-week ban, which would join a similar ban in North Carolina as a national abortion ban. can dramatically reshape the landscape once again.

Legal abortions increased in all three states after the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion in June, according to an October report by WeCount, led by the pro-abortion-rights Society of Family Planning. A research project.

These states now ban or threaten abortion.

North Carolina has emerged as a major abortion haven, with a law allowing abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The unusual dynamics of the state legislature were on display this week when the entire Democratic membership signed off on a bill that would codify cotton wool Democratic leaders in the law intended the legislation to show unity on abortion, though no one expects it to pass in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

“One thing that is clear in North Carolina is that Democrats are united in protecting women’s rights and access to abortion,” said Morgan Jackson, an adviser to Cooper. “Republicans have been shouting for months that they have a path to abortion restrictions. Democrats have closed the door on that.

But Pearce made it clear that despite the party’s appearance of unity, the door remains open to a ban on abortion.

He told The Washington Post he was under a lot of pressure and signed the bill this week with Democrats to “stop the bleeding.”

“Everybody changes their mind about things and we’ll see how that goes,” he said.

“the process It’s just started,” he added. “It’s the first quarter.”

Democrats have little margin for error.

Republicans fell just one seat short of winning a veto-proof majority in the state House during last year’s midterm elections, which conservatives had hoped would push a new abortion law. If they can win just one House Democrat, Abortion leaders say they likely have a vote to change the state’s current 20-week limit.

Republicans already have enough votes in the Senate to override the veto. But Senate Leader Phil Berger has yet to ratify the six-week ban. Instead, he has publicly supported a less restrictive, 12-week limit.

The NC Values ​​Coalition, one of the leading anti-abortion groups in North Carolina, has drafted a six-week abortion ban that it is presenting to lawmakers “as a starting point,” the group said. said Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald. He said the group is beginning the process of contacting Democrats who have voted for previous contraception legislation.

Prosecuting women for abortion pills stifles the anti-abortion movement.

Although Fitzgerald declined to name specific names, his group is likely targeting three Democrats who voted to pass the Human Life Nondiscrimination Act in 2021, which would have protected the fetus’s race, sex, Or would ban abortion based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome, but the governor vetoed it. The list includes Rep. Michael Ray, a small business owner, as well as two pastors — Pierce and Rep. Amos Quick, who leads Calvary Baptist Church in Greensboro.

Wray and Quick did not respond to requests for an interview.

For Democrats who have voted with Republicans on abortion, the issue is often deeply personal, said James Gilliard, a former Democratic state representative who lost re-election in November.

“We don’t talk about it enough, but your most conservative people are black Christians,” said Gilliard, who counts herself among black pastors in the Capitol who are on the right of her party on abortion. Come to “It becomes a real struggle for those of us who are believers.”

Conservatives complain abortion ban not enforced, want jail time for pill smuggling

Some Democratic leaders in the state say they understand there is still some question about how socially conservative Democrats will vote on the upcoming abortion law.

“Signing this, I don’t think anybody is going to be prevented from doing anything in the future,” said House Minority Leader Robert Reeves, a Democrat. But he added that he would be “very, very surprised” if any Democrats decided to support a bill to ban abortion after fetal heart activity was detected.

In Florida, the push for tougher restrictions could hurt Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who indicated Wednesday he would sign a six-week ban. Against the state Senate Republican leader, who has advocated for his party to move more slowly on abortion.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said at a news conference in November that her hands were tied until the Florida Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the 15-week ban passed last year, which Effective from the summer, a decision may not come until then. After the end of the 2023 legislative session. Pasidomo later told the Tampa Bay Times that she would support a 12-week ban with exceptions for rape and indecent assault, adding at a news conference in December that she had discussed the abortion issue. Hadn’t spoken to DeSantis.

In a vacuum, Pasidomo would prefer not to further restrict abortion in Florida, said Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Buck (D), who says she is close to Pasidomo and says she is open to abortion. Talk to him regularly.

“I know his heart on this matter. He has young girls,” Kitab said. While Pasidomo ultimately voted in favor of the 15-week ban, she pushed for the bill to include exceptions for rape and indecent assault — and was furious, Buck said, when it passed without them. Passed.

Pasidomo’s office declined to make him available for an interview.

Despite her preferences, Pasidomo could struggle to stop the six-week ban if DeSantis throws her full support behind the measure. While some Republicans fear losing moderate voters if they adopt stricter abortion limits, DeSantis faces a different calculus now that he has already won a re-election landslide and said He is said to be eyeing a race for the White House. Signing the six-week ban will likely help boost his standing with key evangelical voters in the GOP presidential primary.

“It appears that the governor and the House support the heartbeat bill,” said John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, the state’s largest anti-abortion group. “The question is whether it will end with exceptions or without.”

In Nebraska, approx A six-week ban with rape and indecent assault exceptions has already been introduced by state Sen. Joni Albrecht, who identifies as a Republican in Nebraska’s unique legislature, where lawmakers are technically nonpartisan.

According to Albrecht’s informal vote count, she’s one lawmaker just shy of feeling confident she can lock down the votes needed to overcome a filibuster and on abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation could represent a significant departure from the state’s current prohibition.

“I can’t say I’m confident, but I’m very hopeful that the floor of the Legislature will know what’s right for Nebraska,” she said.

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