RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A bill that would ban abortions on the basis of race or the presumed presence of Down syndrome likely faces a veto from Gov. Roy Cooper but Republican lawmakers are calling on the governor to sign it.
In a letter, state representatives Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) and Dr. Kristin Baker (R-Cabarrus), who are both primary sponsors of the legislation, want the governor to “put politics aside” and sign the bill.
House Bill 453, or the Human Life Non-Discrimination Act, prohibits abortions based on race or the prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
“I implore the governor to put politics aside and join us in protecting these unborn children from discrimination,” said Rep. McElraft. “No one should be denied the right to life because of his or her race or disability.”
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. Nine other states have prohibited abortions motivated by a child’s disability, according to the NC GOP letter.
“It is already illegal in North Carolina to have an abortion based on a child’s gender. This legislation simply extends those same protections to include race and a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome,” said Dr. Baker, who is also a child psychiatrist.
House Bill 453 passed the House by a vote of 67-42 with the support of six Democrats. The Senate passed the bill by a party-line vote of 27-20.
The legislature would need a two-thirds majority in each chamber to override the governor’s veto.
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 similar 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.