North Carolina governor signs measure promoting ‘access to reproductive services’
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, signed an executive order on Wednesday aimed at defending “access to reproductive health services,” setting up a showdown with Republicans who otherwise control the state government.
Cooper was joined by Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, to sign an order directing the state’s Cabinet agencies to protect “reproductive freedom” in North Carolina in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
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“The Supreme Court ripped away the constitutional right to reproductive freedom that women have relied on for five decades,” Cooper said in a statement. “For now, it’s up to the states to determine whether women get reproductive health care, and in North Carolina they still can, thanks to my veto and enough legislative votes to sustain it. I am determined to keep it that way.”
Reproductive health care services are defined as services related to the “human reproductive system, including but not limited to, services relating to pregnancy, contraception, or the termination of a pregnancy,” according to the executive order.
Wednesday’s order prohibits Cabinet agencies from requiring a pregnant state employee to travel to another state that has enacted “restrictions on access to reproductive health care services.” The order also provides protection for those facing out-of-state extradition for providing or assisting with reproductive health services that are “lawful in North Carolina” and directs the Department of Public Safety to work with law enforcement to prohibit restricting access to healthcare facilities.
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Cooper faces a lonely uphill battle with a Republican lieutenant governor and a GOP-controlled Senate and General Assembly. He has previously vetoed abortion bills passed by state Republican lawmakers, though the party is only a handful of legislative seats away from having enough votes to override Cooper’s vetoes, a milestone that could be reached this November.
Under current law, abortions in North Carolina are still legal up until 20 weeks of pregnancy and longer if the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or would “gravely impair” her health, according to NARAL.