Gov. Cooper vetoes bill preventing abortions based on race, Down syndrome

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A bill that would have banned abortions on the basis of race or the presumed presence of Down syndrome was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper Friday.

House Bill 453, or the Human Life Non-Discrimination Act, prohibits abortions based on race or the prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Cooper says the bill “gives the government control over what happens and what is said in the exam room between a woman and her doctor at a time she faces one of the most difficult decisions of her life. This bill is unconstitutional and it damages the doctor-patient relationship with an unprecedented government intrusion.”

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.

Currently, six states have laws prohibiting abortions motivated by the race of the child, and fourteen states, including North Carolina, have laws prohibiting sex-selective abortions. 

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.

Republican lawmakers spoke out after the veto from the governor.

“With a stroke of his pen, Gov. Cooper just told North Carolinians that it’s OK to discriminate based on race or disability as long as it’s in the womb. This bill simply put an end to eugenics. It shouldn’t be controversial to protect an unborn child with Down syndrome, but Gov. Cooper proves once again that he’s unwilling to stand up for North Carolinians when his left-wing donors demand his loyalty,” said Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance).

The Associated Press reported that a federal court in Tennessee recently upheld a similar law, and a federal appeals court reversed decisions blocking a similar law in Ohio.

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