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NC Democratic leaders warn of more restrictions on Roe v. Wade anniversary

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said the GOP could further restrict abortion after the 2024 election.
Steve Harrison
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said the GOP could further restrict abortion after the 2024 election.

Democrats across North Carolina on Monday marked 51 years since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion, including a visit to Charlotte by Gov. Roy Cooper and state House minority leader Rep. Robert Reives.

Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022 by the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

That led several Republican-controlled states to pass restrictions on abortion. North Carolina lawmakers passed a ban on most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion had been previously restricted to around 20 weeks.

Reives said the November elections will be critical for abortion rights.

“Make no mistake, if Republicans return to the White House in 2024 and if the right-wing extremists that have taken over that party gain more seats, they will have, and have promised, a national ban on abortions,” he said.

Abortion became a key issue in the 2022 midterms, diffusing what was expected to be a red wave.

But North Carolina Democrats did not get a boost from Dobbs. Republicans won the U.S. Senate race and gained seats in the General Assembly.

Republican legislators then settled on a 12-week ban after intense debate within their caucus about how far to go. Several GOP-controlled states, including Florida and South Carolina, have passed six-week bans.

Cooper said Republicans could go further if they win the governor’s race this year and keep their legislative supermajority.

“You have a governor’s race and legislative races that are going to determine whether Republicans are going to get to do more damage to women in North Carolina,” he said.

Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who is leading the GOP primary for governor, has said abortion is murder and has called for a total ban. In recent months, however, he has softened that position and declined to talk about what he would do if elected.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.