Republican-majority legislatures in Nebraska, North Carolina, and South Carolina are all trying Tuesday to ram through extreme abortion bans at the last minute, despite recent failures.
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion has been legal in Nebraska until 20 weeks and in South Carolina until 22 weeks, although both states have multiple restrictions, such as a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and biased counseling aimed at running out the clock. Abortion is also currently legal in North Carolina until 20 weeks. If the bills pass, particularly the Carolinas’ measures, they will have wide-ranging negative consequences for abortion access.
The Nebraska legislature failed last month to overcome a filibuster against a six-week abortion ban after two anti-abortion senators voted “present.” Republicans are now pushing a 12-week abortion ban instead, as part of an anti-trans bill restricting gender-affirming care. One of the senators who helped kill the previous ban, Republican Merv Riepe, could once again prove to be the crucial swing vote.
A six-week ban also died in the South Carolina legislature in late April, after all of the female senators, who span the political spectrum, banded together to filibuster the measure. The bill had looked unlikely to make it back to the floor because there weren’t enough days left in the legislative session. But Republican Governor Henry McMaster called lawmakers back for a special session to consider multiple measures, including an abortion ban.
A new six-week ban has now made it through the state Senate and goes Tuesday before the House, where Democrats have filed 1,000 amendments to try and block the measure from reaching a final vote. If an amended bill passes the House, it will need reapproval by the Senate before it goes to McMaster for his signature.
The North Carolina state legislature will also convene Tuesday to vote to override a veto on a 12-week abortion ban. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the bill over the weekend, cheered on by hundreds of abortion rights supporters.
But state Republicans have just enough votes to override the veto, after Representative Tricia Cotham switched parties. If they succeed, the bill will go into immediate effect. The measure technically bans abortion after 12 weeks, but in reality, the window could be much shorter. People would also only be allowed to get a medication abortion until 10 weeks of pregnancy, and to get one, they would have to go to three separate, in-person appointments that are 72 hours apart.
While any of the bills passing would be a huge blow to reproductive rights, the measures in the Carolinas would absolutely decimate abortion access in the South. North Carolina in particular has become a haven for people seeking out-of-state abortions. Taken in conjunction with Florida’s six-week abortion ban, abortion access could be practically wiped out for a huge swathe of the United States.