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North Carolina Governor Vetoes Born-Alive Bill

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Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a born-alive bill Thursday that sought to explicitly direct physicians to provide care for infants who survive abortion procedures.

Cooper vetoed SB359, also known as the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which passed the state legislature Tuesday. The state Senate first passed the bill Monday and the House passed the bill in a 65-46 vote Tuesday, according to The News & Observer.

“Any infant born alive after an abortion or within a hospital, clinic, or other facility has the same claim to the protection of the law that would arise for any newborn, or for any person who comes to a hospital, clinic, or other facility for screening and treatment or otherwise becomes a patient within its care,” according to the legislation. Physicians who violate the bill would be charged with a Class D felony and fined up to $250,000.

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Cooper’s spokesman, Ford Porter, criticized the bill ahead of the governor’s Thursday veto. “This unnecessary legislation would criminalize doctors for a practice that simply does not exist,” Porter said, according to the Observer. “Laws already exist to protect newborn babies and legislators should instead be focused on other issues like expanding access to health care to help children thrive,” Porter added.

After the bill passed the state legislature, North Carolina’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent Cooper a letter urging him to veto the legislation. The bill would “interfere with the patient-provider relationship, target health care providers, and mislead the public about safe, legal abortion care,” according to the letter.

Critics of the bill “think it’ll have a chilling effect on doctors who perform later abortions,” according to Florida State University College of Law attorney and professor Mary Ziegler, the Observer reported Thursday. “And Democrats will often vote against it even though its not about abortion, per se,” Ziegler added.

Cooper’s veto comes after U.S. District Judge William Osteen struck down in late March a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, ruling that a “week-or event-specific” ban is not constitutional, Reuters reported. Legal abortions in the state may occur to the point of viability as determined by a presiding physician under Osteen’s ruling.

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A number of states have passed bills restricting abortion access. Arkansas, North Dakota, Iowa, Mississippi and Kentucky have proposed bills or enacted laws outlawing abortion in the presence of a fetal heartbeat. Many of the abortion bans, however, have remained ineffective following court orders prohibiting enforcement, Cleveland.com reported.

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