Jun 24, 2022 - News

What overturning Roe v. Wade means for North Carolina

Illustration of a caduceus turning into a gavel.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

When the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision this morning to overturn Roe v. Wade, millions of people across the country lost their right to have an abortion. For now, however, abortions in North Carolina remain legal.

Why it matters: The court's decision means the legality of the procedure is now left to individual states. That could mean a wave of abortion bans in states like North Carolina — where Republicans control the state legislature — in the near future.

What would immediately happen in each state if Roe v. Wade is overturned
Data: Axios research; Cartogram: Sara Wise and Oriana Gonzalez/Axios

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto is now the only thing blocking the General Assembly from passing tighter abortion restrictions in the state.

  • Cooper has a track record of doing exactly that. In his two terms in office, Cooper has used his veto power on multiple abortion bills passed by Republicans.

Yes, but: Republicans only need to flip a handful of legislative seats — three in the House and two in the Senate — to have enough votes to override Cooper's vetoes. That means after the November election, which is expected to be favorable to Republicans, the legislature could further restrict abortions.

  • This dynamic means in North Carolina, abortion rights will be a key issue in the election, as Democrats fight to ward off Republican majorities in the state House and in Congress.

What they're saying: Cheri Beasley, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, said the decision would "decimate abortion access."

  • "As your Senator, I will not hesitate to be the 51st vote to end the filibuster and codify Roe nationwide," Beasley said in a tweet.

Thom Tillis, North Carolina's Republican Senator, celebrated the court's decision.

  • "This ruling is historic and monumental and affirms my belief that all life is sacred," he said in a statement. "Each state government will now make the determination about the types of laws they wish to have in place."

State of play: In the immediate future, North Carolina could see thousands of people travel here from other southern states that have immediate bans on abortion triggered by the Supreme Court’s decision.

  • Up to 70,000 additional patients could travel to the state for abortion procedures, The Assembly reported, citing Planned Parenthood estimates.
  • Bordering and nearby states, such as South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia and Kentucky are all expected to ban or severely restrict abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group and supporter of abortion rights.

Axios reported last month that governments had begun preparing for a potential surge in political violence after the abortion ruling.

  • Law enforcement agencies have investigated social media threats to attack justices and burn down or storm the Supreme Court.

A June 7 bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security, "Summary of Terrorism Threat to the United States," warns:

  • "Given a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case about abortion rights, individuals who advocate both for and against abortion have, on public forums, encouraged violence, including against government, religious, and reproductive healthcare personnel and facilities."

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