May 18, 2023 - News

What North Carolina’s abortion ban means for Virginia

Illustration of a red cross with a metal door rolling closed in front of it

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Virginia is about to become one of the last states in the South with broad access to abortion.

Driving the news: North Carolina lawmakers voted Tuesday to bar most abortions after 12 weeks, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

  • The law, which also requires patients to meet in person with a doctor at least 72 hours before the procedure, goes into effect July 1.

Why it matters: The state had become a refuge for women seeking the procedure since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Advocates now expect many of those patients will instead head to Virginia, where abortion remains legal up to the end of the second trimester.

By the numbers: The number of abortions performed in North Carolina increased about 40% after Roe was overturned and surrounding states moved to limit access, according to a report by the Society of Family Planning.

Context: South Carolina is the only other southern state without strict restrictions, though that's not for lack of trying.

  • The state's Supreme Court overturned a six-week ban as unconstitutional, and lawmakers are currently considering new limits, per the New York Times.

Zoom out: Legislative elections in Virginia this year will determine whether Gov. Glenn Youngkin can pass his proposed 15-week ban.

What they're saying: Abortion rights advocates are pointing to North Carolina as a wake up call.

  • "It's a terrifying reminder of just how close Virginia is to also losing abortion access," Jamie Lockhart, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, tells Axios.

The other side: Youngkin calls his proposed ban a workable compromise.

  • "There seems to be substantial support across Democrats, across Republicans, men and women, for a bill that would protect life in 15 weeks," Youngkin recently told reporters, per VPM.

👀 What we're watching: The issue is already playing out in the primary fight between Sen. Joe Morrissey, an anti-abortion rights Democrat, and former Del. Lashrecse Aird.

Aird hit back with a campaign ad featuring video of Morrissey on his radio show repeatedly voicing anti-abortion views.

  • "I am proud to vote pro-life, and I will side with Republicans in the future on this issue," he said in one clip.

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