About 200 people gathered near the Legislative Building Tuesday evening to urge members of the N.C. House to follow their state Senate counterparts and override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 359.
Members of the pro-life movement held the rally they called “Stand for Life” in the Bicentennial Plaza to show their support of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, which Cooper vetoed April 18. They held signs proclaiming “North Carolina Stands for Life” and that “North Carolina Protects the Innocent.” They lit candles as darkness fell on the plaza.
Anti-abortion groups blasted Cooper’s veto, his first of the session.
“I learned that Gov. Cooper was recovering from back surgery. I didn’t know he had a spine,” said John Amanchukwu, referring to the governor’s surgery this week.
The state Senate voted April 30 to override the veto 30-20 as a lone Democrat joined 29 Republicans to reach the required margin. An override vote by the state House has not yet been scheduled.
Republicans, who lost their veto-proof majorities in 2016, will need at least seven Democrats to reach the 72 votes required in the House for the override. Four House Democrats voted for the bill when it originally passed 65-46, seven votes short of the veto threshold.
The bill makes it a felony for doctors that do not perform life-saving measures on a baby born alive despite an abortion attempt. It also requires medical professionals to report doctors, nurses and other staff who do not give life-saving care.
A spokesman for Cooper, Ford Porter, has called the legislation unnecessary.
“Laws already exist to protect newborn babies and legislators should instead be focused on other issues like expanding access to health care to help children thrive,” he has said.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is running for the Republican nomination to face Cooper in 2020, was one of the 15 speakers at the rally.
“I can’t wait for the day to come that we don’t have to do this anymore, have anymore rallies,” Forest said. “We shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a lack of human dignity about unborn babies. I can’t really think of anything in my life that we’ve had to deal with that is more extreme, more atrocious.”
Barbara Holt, president of N.C. Right to Life, said history would not look favorably on Cooper.
“Instead of ensuring protections for these defenseless children, he succumbed to the pro-abortion extremists,” Holt said.
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, commended the Senate for its override vote.
“Governor Cooper didn’t just veto a bill when he vetoed Senate Bill 359,” she said. “He vetoed babies. Instead of standing up for babies, he stood for infanticide. We ask the House to do the same thing as the Senate — override Gov. Cooper’s veto.”