The North Carolina Senate has voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill to protect newborn babies from infanticide.
State Senate Bill 359 would require abortion workers to provide the same level of medical care to an infant born alive from a botched abortion that they would any other infant born at the same gestational age. It also would require the infant to be transferred to a hospital for further care. Health workers also would be require to report these instances to authorities. Abortion workers who violate the measure could face felony charges.
Cooper, a pro-abortion Democrat who has the support of Planned Parenthood, vetoed the bill.
Republicans picked up enough Democrat votes to override Governor Cooper to override the vote 30-20 — with the bare 2/3 vote needed to pass.
Republicans recently lost their veto-proof supermajorities in the General Assembly, and in the Senate they needed at least one Democrat to side with them and against Cooper. Two Democrats originally voted for the bill, and on Tuesday one of them continued his support, providing the final Senate vote necessary for the veto override.
The Senate wasn’t the only obstacle for the bill to become law, however. The N.C. House of Representatives must also vote to override Cooper’s veto if lawmakers want to pass the bill into law over the governor’s objection.
Republicans say they believe there is a loophole in state law that would allow doctors to get away with killing newborn babies through purposeful negligence, since doctors don’t currently have a legal duty to care for newborn babies.
“This bill is nothing except requiring care for a newborn child, separate from its mother, born alive,” Sen. Joyce Krawiec, a Forsyth County Republican who sponsored the bill, in the Senate debate Tuesday.
And while Democrats accused Republicans of using the bill for cynical political purposes, Republicans said the same of Democrats.
“It’s a sad day when we have to come back here because we have a governor who decided making a political statement was more important than protecting living newborn babies,” Krawiec said.
The bill originally passed the Senate 28-19, with several Republicans absent that day. All but two Democrats voted no originally — Sen. Ben Clark of Hoke County and Sen. Don Davis of Pitt County. But on Tuesday, all the Republicans were present for the vote. And even though Clark switched on Tuesday to side with Cooper, Davis provided the final vote that Republicans needed to override the veto.
Cooper criticized the bill as “unnecessary” and claimed it would “criminalize doctors for a practice that simply does not exist” in his veto message.
During the House debate, however, state Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Emerald Isle, gave a powerful testimony about working as a phlebotomist and seeing newborns who survived abortions being abandoned to die in the hospital where she worked, according to North Carolina Health News.
“I was on a break and went in to visit with the pathologist in the pathology lab and I asked him, I said, ‘What are all these little pigs doing in these buckets?’ He told me, ‘Pat, look again,’ and I did. They were perfectly formed little human babies in those buckets,” she said.
McElraft said the incident occurred in the 1970s, soon after she began working in the medical field. She also said she knew of a doctor at the hospital who drowned newborns who survived abortions.
Reports by the Centers for Disease Control indicate that there are infants born alive after botched abortions in the U.S. According to Congressional testimony:
Data that the CDC collects also confirms babies are born alive after attempted abortions. Between the years 2003 and 2014 there were somewhere between 376 and 588 infant deaths under the medical code P96.4 which keeps track of babies born alive after a “termination of pregnancy.”
The CDC concluded that of the 588 babies, 143 were “definitively” born alive after an attempted abortion and they lived from minutes to one or more days, with 48% of the babies living between one to four hours. It also admitted that it’s possible the number is an underestimate (B).
Data from other countries suggest the same. In 2018, for example, the Canadian Institute of Health Information reported 766 late-term, live-birth abortions over a five-year period. In Western Australia, at least 27 babies survived abortions between 1999 and 2016, according to the state’s health minister.
Currently, 19 states do not have laws requiring medical care for babies born alive after botched abortions, according to research by Americans United for Life. However, Kentucky and Texas lawmakers are considering similar legislation this spring.
The state bills are similar to federal legislation that pro-abortion Democrats are blocking in the U.S. House and Senate. The Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act requires abortionists to provide the same level of medical care to an infant who survives an abortion as a doctor would to any other baby at the same stage of life.
Some states never have passed laws to protect abortion survivors, while at least one other, New York, recently repealed its law requiring medical care for infants who survive abortions.