RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – Changes in North Carolina abortion rights are headed for the desk of Gov. Roy Cooper, where they won’t have a warm reception.

This 46-page bill, pushed through after first being revealed on Tuesday night, less than 24 hours before the vote was scheduled, is a gutted bill about safe haven for abandoned children that had passed in the House. The process of stripping an existing bill and removing the ability to have committee hearings and amendments drew the ire of Democrats.

Sens. Dan Blue (D-Wake) and Chad Chaudhuri (D-Wake) tried to stop the vote by claiming the bill violates state law because it includes appropriations before an appropriations bill was passed. Senate Rules Chair Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) said the language in the bill allowed for that suspension of the rules, and his judgment was upheld on appeal, 30-20.

The NC Senate on Thursday morning, in a 29-20 vote on party lines, put its stamp of approval on Senate Bill 20, the “Care for Women Children and Families Act,” which tightens to 12 weeks the window for an elective abortion, retaining exceptions for rape, incest, the health of the mother and fetal abnormalities and adding money for a variety of related initiatives.

As Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), the Senate Health chair, was introducing the bill, there was an outcry from the gallery that asked “Where is Democracy?” and “Where is decorum?”

Sen. Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said that “certainly is a good question” as he slammed his gavel and threatened to clear the gallery. He later slammed it during another outburst while a senator was speaking.

Krawiec said that those who support trying address the issue “saw an opportunity to put forth pro-life, pro-woman legislation.”

Before the House voted on Wednesday, Cooper was adamant about how this will play out, and he acknowledged that Republicans would have to help him.

“Don’t let this so-called 12-week abortion ban fool you,” Cooper posted on social media. “It will effectively ban access to reproductive freedom earlier and sometimes altogether for many women because of new restrictions and requirements. This is why Republicans are ramming it through with no chance to amend.

“I will veto this extreme ban and need everyone’s help to hold it.”

The GOP holds a veto-proof margin – 60% of members – in both chambers after Rep. Tricia Cotham of Charlotte switched from Democrat to Republican earlier this spring after she didn’t show up to vote with Democrats on a veto override of the pistol permit bill.

The House voted 71-46, along party lines, with two absent Democrats and one absent Republican, after a lengthy debate on Wednesday night, following two motions to delay vote and return it to committee to strip out abortion rights provisions from the original text.

What’s in the bill

The compromise update of Senate Bill 20:

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  • Provides access to an elective abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, in cases of rape and incest up to 20 weeks, with no requirement for a report to law enforcement.
  • Sets abortion for a fetal, life-limiting anomaly up to 24 weeks.
  • Continues current state law that there is no exception on abortion in the case of a threat to the life of the mother.
  • Requires any abortion after the second trimester to be done in a hospital and establishes new standards for health care facilities to support abortion.
  • Guards against the Illegal distribution of abortion-inducing drugs and continues the current law that abortion-inducing drugs must be taken in the presence of a physician.
  • Maintains a 72-hour, in-person consent process.
  • Sets aside millions of dollars for childcare, mental health assistance and paid maternal/paternal leave for state employees.

Changes in the law

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Boggs decision, which said abortion laws were the province of the state, North Carolina had been operating with a 20-week abortion window.

Most abortions are now banned in 13 states, and Georgia has a 6-week ban. A similar 6-week limit is under review by the Florida Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 21 extended access to the drug mifepristone, which is used in a cocktail with misoprostol is the most common form of abortion.