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North Carolina’s election results mean fight over abortion laws likely to intensify

 A voting sign is seen outside a Charlotte precinct on Nov. 8, 2022.
Claire Donnelly
A voting sign is seen outside a Charlotte precinct on Nov. 8, 2022.

Abortion rights supporters in North Carolina are bracing for a continued fight over abortion access after Republicans narrowly failed to win a supermajority across both chambers of the statehouse.

Republicans in the state Senate picked up enough seats for a supermajority, according to final but official election results Wednesday. That means they will be able to override any veto from Cooper. But Republicans in North Carolina’s House of Representatives fell just one seat shy of the same, winning 71 seats instead of the 72 required for a supermajority in the House.

That could mean at least two more years without stricter abortion regulations in the state, since Cooper, a Democrat, has said he would veto any measure that restricts access to the procedure. But Cooper’s veto power is fragile, since even one House Democrat switching to vote with Republicans could tip the scales on issues like abortion policy.

“For all intents and purposes, we have a governing supermajority,” House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters Wednesday. “We have a handful of Democrats who work with us. We have some new members coming in. And I feel completely confident that, should we need to override vetoes, we’ll be able to do our part on the House as well.”

Tami Fitzgerald leads the conservative, Christian, anti-abortion rights group NC Values Coalition. She said she was “thrilled” with the results of the election.

“There are Democrats who are pro-life,” Fitzgerald said. “Our hope is that these Democrats will have the courage to go against their party and that they will have the courage to take a moral position on an issue which we believe has great moral implications.”

Abortion rights supporters are preparing for a “tough fight ahead,” according to Jenny Black, CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, which operates 14 locations across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

“We’re still going to have to fight for abortion access in North Carolina but we lived to fight that fight. We’ve lived to fight another day,” Black said Wednesday.

In North Carolina, abortion is legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. A federal judge ruled in August that a 20-week abortion ban originally passed in the early 1970s could take effect, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger applauded the ban’s reinstatement.

In August, Berger said he supported restrictions on abortion after roughly the first three months of pregnancy, The Associated Press reported. Moore reportedly said he supports legislation that would ban abortions after roughly six weeks.

Republicans also won control of the state Supreme Court, meaning any restrictions the legislature passes are likely to be upheld.

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Copyright 2022 WFAE. To see more, visit WFAE.

Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literture and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, Claire likes listening to podcasts and trying out new recipes.