On Thursday morning, North Carolina Democrats held a press conference introducing legislation to codify abortion protections into state law. The legislation is based on two U.S. Supreme Court cases that were overturned, Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992).
Democrats in the state Senate and House filed identical abortion bills on Wednesday. All Senate Democrats co-sponsored the Senate’s version of the bill, but as of Thursday morning when the press conference began, only 25 out of 49 House Democrats had signed on as co-sponsors of House Bill 19. As of Friday morning, 44 of the 49 Democrats are co-sponsors.
Republicans would need at least one Democratic member of the state House to override a veto from Governor Roy Cooper. Cooper has said he would veto any further restrictions on abortion.
This comes in contrast to the state Senate, where 20 out of 20 Democrats co-sponsored Senate Bill 19, their version of the bill.
Of the nine House Democrats who did not sign to “Codify Roe and Casey” into law initially, five were recently appointed to leadership positions by House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland.
House Minority Leader Robert Reives, D-Chatham, told reporters he is not concerned that Democrats would side with Republicans in an abortion-related override vote.
Colin Campbell, a reporter for the N.C. Tribune, asked Democrats if they would be open to compromising with Republicans. The current law bans abortion after 20 weeks but allows for some exceptions after 20 weeks.
In response, Sen. Sydney Batch, D-Wake, said Democrats are not looking to compromise.
“This is our baseline,” Batch said. “If Republicans want to negotiate with us, they can come to our doors—they’re always open—and we can talk about this being the floor and then us improving it but going down [in weeks of fetal development] is not what we’re here for.”
On Wednesday, House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters that he does not anticipate the Democratic bill will be given consideration, as the Republican party holds a majority in the committees responsible for policy in his chamber.
Lawmakers “certainly have a right to file the bill,” Moore said. “It’ll be assigned to a committee. And if a majority of that committee wants to take it up, they will. But I don’t anticipate a majority would want to take that bill up.”
Rep. Julie von Haefen, D-Wake, posted a tweet criticizing Republicans in the chamber, but did not address whether her fellow House Democrats are unified on the bill.
Sen. Blue stated that Senate and House Democrats are “united in protecting women’s health, privacy and the freedom to choose.”
This story was updated Friday morning, January 27, 2023.