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Forsyth state senator reintroduces controversial abortion-focused bill

Forsyth state senator reintroduces controversial abortion-focused bill

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Sen. Joyce Krawiec has chosen to revisit an abortion bill that represented Gov. Roy Cooper’s first successful veto in a post-Republican super-majority legislature.

Krawiec, R-Forsyth, introduced Senate Bill 405 on Tuesday — a culture-war bill titled “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.”

The bill contains most of the same language as Senate Bill 359 during the 2019 session that Gov. Roy Cooper narrowly successfully vetoed in April 2019.

The proposed legislation would require that doctors and nurses protect and care for children born alive during a failed late-term abortion.

"There is a different General Assembly now with new members," Krawiec said when asked about resubmitting the proposed legislation.

"I hope that we will be able to pass this bill and, if necessary, override another veto."

The 2019 version of the bill listed that providers who chose not to provide that level of care could have been charged with a felony and face active prison time, along with up to a $250,000 fine.

Krawiec said the 2021 bill changed the potential criminal penalty to a class A1 misdemeanor — the most serious type of misdemeanor under state law that carries up to a 150-day jail term and a discretionary fine.

Class A1 misdemeanors include offenses such as: assault with a deadly weapon; assault inflicting serious injury; assault on a female or a government employee; violation of a restraining order, and sexual battery.

The proposed legislation would have exempted the mother from prosecution.

Krawiec also filed Tuesday Senate Bill 404, titled “A Second Chance at Life,” that contains the same language at Senate Bill 52 and House Bill 53 introduced during the 2019 session.

Those bills would require abortion providers to give women undergoing drug-induced abortions information from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services that they could still have a live birth if they change their mind after the first of two doses is administered.

Women would have to certify, in writing, they were provided the DHHS information and informed of their options. Certification would be maintained in the woman’s medical records.

Unlike SB359, the 2019 session abortion bills were not addressed in committee.

Krawiec could not be reached for comment about her decision to reintroduce both bills.

“I suspect the sponsors of these measures would have filed them whether they believed they had the support of two, 20 or 40 Senate colleagues,” said Mitch Kokai, senior policy analyst with Libertarian think tank John Locke Foundation.

“Their interest in protecting human life involves core principles, not just a political calculation about ‘yes’ and ’no’ votes.”

Background

Senate Bill 359 cleared the House by a 65-46 vote on April 15, 2019, and the Senate by a 28-19 vote on April 16, 2019. Cooper took just two days to veto the bill.

A veto override needs 72 votes in the House and 30 in the Senate to be successful, which requires Democratic support with the GOP supermajority ending after the 2018 election.

The Senate waited 12 days before casting on April 30, 2019, a successful 30-20 veto override vote. Sen. Don Davis, D-Pitt, provided the necessary Democratic vote.

House speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, parked SB359 into what was known as a “veto garage” — defined as placing a potential veto override vote on the floor agenda indefinitely.

Indefinitely, in this instance, proved to be 10 House sessions in which the veto override was put on the agenda, only to be withdrawn.

On June 5, the veto override vote was taken and failed by a 67-53 margin with Democratic Reps. Charles Graham of Robeson County and Garland Pierce of Scotland County voting for the override.

Kokai said the current makeup of the General Assembly “doesn’t suggest there’s any greater likelihood of the bills turning into law during the next two years.”

The House is 69-51 Republican, a gain of four GOP seats from 2019, while the Senate is 28-22 Republican, a gain of one Democrat seat from 2019.

“Some Democrats might go along with Republicans on these measures, but it’s not clear that either bill would secure enough votes to reach a supermajority,” Kokai said.

“Plus, it’s likely that everyone in the Senate chamber remembers the Democratic Party’s campaign to vilify Sen. Don Davis when he voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the last Born Alive Abortion Survivors bill.

“Memories of that campaign might dissuade potential Democratic supporters,” Kokai said.

The likelihood of a successful veto override is just as slim on the 2021 version of the abortion-focused bill, said John Dinan, a political science professor at Wake Forest University who is a national expert on state legislatures.

“I haven’t seen any indication that there are enough Democratic members in the House and Senate to enable Republicans in the legislature to prevail on any veto-override votes this session, whether on abortion-related bills or other bills,” Dinan said.

“Those issues all have their own separate politics and dynamics.”

Dinan said one conclusion that could be drawn from the failed House veto override of SB359 is that “House and Senate Democrats’ willingness to occasionally vote with Republicans on initial passage of bills is no guarantee that they will side with Republicans when it comes to overriding a veto and standing against the governor in that way.”

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@rcraverWSJ

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