Roy Cooper Vetoes North Carolina Ban on Selective Abortion

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A demonstrator holds an abortion flag outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., as justices hear a major abortion case on the legality of a Louisiana law that imposes restrictions on abortion doctors, March 4, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Last week, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have prohibited doctors from knowingly performing selective abortions chosen due to the race, sex, or disability of the unborn child.

Cooper, a Democrat who was widely expected to veto the legislation, claimed in a statement announcing his veto that the bill is unconstitutional and damaging.

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“This 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,” Cooper asserted, adding that the legislation would “damage the doctor-patient relationship with an unprecedented government intrusion.”

The bill, H.B. 453, passed in the North Carolina State Senate earlier last month on a party-line vote and in the State House of of Representatives by a larger margin, with the support of several Democratic legislators.

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The legislation would have prohibited doctors from knowingly performing an abortion that a woman had chosen on the basis of “the actual or presumed race or racial makeup of the unborn child, the sex of the unborn child, [or] the presence or presumed presence of Down syndrome.”

North Carolina’s General Assembly is one of several state legislatures across the country that has been working to pass a ban on selective abortions. Earlier this year, both South Dakota and Arizona enacted bans on abortions chosen due to an unborn child’s Down-syndrome diagnosis, and a handful of other states either have a similar law on the books or have had their policy blocked in court.

Both the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals have struck down selective-abortion bans in Indiana, Arkansas, and, most recently, Missouri. But earlier this year, the Sixth Circuit upheld such a ban in Ohio, creating a circuit-court split and setting the issue up for an appeal to the Supreme Court.

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