RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As Republicans continue their talks regarding what new restrictions on abortion to pursue, Democrats filed bills Wednesday to eliminate various regulations, including the state’s 72-hour waiting period.
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, North Carolina Republicans said abortion would be a key issue they would address during the current legislative session.
So far, they haven’t filed any bills.
“I think the fact that you haven’t seen a bill is an indication that we’re still working,” said Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham).
Republicans in the House and Senate have met privately for months to try to reach an agreement on a single bill to pass in both chambers.
Sen. Berger personally supports a ban after the first trimester with exceptions for rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother. But it remains unclear exactly what changes Republicans will attempt to make as some push to ban abortion even earlier in pregnancy.
“We are closer to an agreement than we were earlier, but I think as we get closer it probably may take a little longer to work out whatever differences there might be,” said Sen. Berger.
Democrats in the House and Senate filed legislation Wednesday that would repeal the state’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy as well as other policies, such as the ban on medication abortion via telemedicine. It would also codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into state law, allowing abortion up to the point of fetal viability. The bill is called the RBG Act in memory of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“These barriers serve absolutely no medical purpose and instead just interfere in the person’s decision about when, if and how to start a family,” said Rep. Julie von Haefen (D-Wake).
Dr. Nicole Teal, who is in her final year of training to treat patients experiencing high-risk pregnancies, said the state’s existing ban on abortions after 20 weeks has created challenges for her in providing the care she says some of her patients need.
With the potential for the state to implement further restrictions, she said she chose to leave the state when her training is finished.
“It’s just so outside of my moral obligation to patients that I felt I couldn’t stay here. So, I’m moving back to California and I’ll be taking a job there starting in September,” she said.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has vowed to veto any new restrictions on abortion. While Republicans have a veto-proof supermajority in the Senate, they are one vote short of that in the House. Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said he’s talked to some Democrats about potentially supporting a Republican bill, but all of them have co-sponsored legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade in state law.