Legislative leaders get more specific on changing North Carolina abortion laws

Published August 25, 2022

By Capitol Broadcasting Company

It was a remarkably specific statement about how Senate Leader Phil Berger wants to change the state’s laws concerning abortion. Abortion after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy would be banned – with narrow exceptions.

Until Berger’s comments earlier this week, legislative leaders had been vague about their plans.

“I would say that after the first trimester, the state has an absolute interest in regulating the incidence of abortion,” Berger, a Rockingham County Republican, said.

House Speaker Tim Moore remained unspecific, repeating his generalities that he personally supports legislation banning abortions when an ultrasound detects fetal cardiac activity – starting at about five weeks after fertilization and often before a patient is aware of their pregnancy

Both represent a drastic change from what had been the law in North Carolina – reducing access to abortion by as much as 75% from what it was prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June. North Carolina law, as of last week, prohibits abortion after 20 weeks except for medical emergencies.

Not only do Berger and Moore’s positions go way beyond what has been in practice, they are out of step with what the vast majority of North Carolina voters say they want. A June poll of North Carolina voters showed 55% don’t want further restrictions on abortion while just 34% favor more restrictions.

For North Carolina voters who will be electing members of the General Assembly and Congress in November, this information gives them the most specific yet on how they might base their choice at the ballot box.

  • BERGER: No general access to abortion after about 12 weeks. After that, only when it involves rape, incest or the mother’s life is at risk.
  • MOORE: No general access to abortion after about five weeks.

While Berger and Moore hold tight reins over what happens in the legislature, they aren’t the only voices. Even they confess other members of the legislature, a wide range of interest groups and even their constituents might have something to say about it.

That is why North Carolinians should demand legislative candidates who want their votes explain – in detail – what their position is on women’s access to abortion and related health and pregnancy regulations.

Do candidates want to keep North Carolina’s abortion laws as they were prior to the overturning of Roe v. Wade?

Do they stand with Berger who wants to ban abortions after 12 weeks? Do they side with Moore would (House Bill 31) ban abortions after a “detectable” fetal heartbeat?

Do they agree with legislators who want the State Constitution (House Bill 158) to declare life starts “at the moment” of fertilization and anyone who willfully tries or destroys a life is accountable for attempted murder?

Do they agree with Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein, who support the law as it was prior to the court’s June ruling. Stein has refused to be involved in any action to further restrict abortion access. He has said he opposes action that “would restrict women’s ability to make their own reproductive health care decisions. Protecting that ability is more important than ever.”

Do voters agree with the legislators (House Bill 1119) who want to maintain abortion rights in the state.

Voters deserve to know where candidates stand. Candidates must make their positions clear and widely known.