North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a state-level anti-infanticide bill Thursday morning.
Senate Bill 359 was passed out of the North Carolina House of Representatives and sent to Cooper earlier this week. Like similar federal legislation that is currently the subject of a discharge petition in the House of Representatives, it is titled the "Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act."
The North Carolina legislation would have required that children who survive botched abortion attempts be given the same degree of lifesaving medical care "as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age." Failure to do so would have been classified as a felony punishable with a fine of up to $250,000.
"Laws already protect newborn babies and this bill is an unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients," a statement from Cooper's office said. "This needless legislation would criminalize doctors and other healthcare providers for a practice that simply does not exist."
In reality, current federal law passed in 2002 declares that abortion survivors are legal persons, but impose no legal penalties for medical professionals who willfully deny them lifesaving care after the fact.
"The day before Good Friday, Governor Cooper has chosen to stand with infanticide and extremist groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL over life," North Carolina Republican communications director Jeff Hauser said in a statement. "It is grotesque to think that Cooper believes providing care to infants born alive during an abortion procedure is 'an unnecessary interference between doctors and their patients.'"
And contrary to the bill's opponents' talking points about the legislation's supposed affects on abortion access, it would have imposed no restrictions on abortion procedures or time limits before a child is born. It literally applied to only newborns outside the womb.
"Caring for a living, breathing, newborn infant is too restrictive for Governor Cooper's radical abortion agenda," the legislation's sponsors said in a press release. "We thought Democrats would agree that children born alive should be separate from the abortion debate, but it's clear that they want the 'right to choose' to even extend past birth. This is a sad day for North Carolina."
While many of Cooper's vetoes have been overridden by the GOP-controlled legislature, this is the first he's issued since Republicans lost a veto-proof supermajority in November. And while a handful of Democrats voted in favor of the legislation, it remains unclear whether pro-lifers will have enough bipartisan support to override the veto.