North Carolina House passes 12-week abortion ban

 North Carolina's Republican-dominated House on Wednesday passed and sent to the state Senate a controversial bill limiting most abortions to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, a sharp drop from the state's current limit of 20 weeks' gestation.

The bill passed 71-46 along party lines, with one Republican and two Democratic lawmakers not voting.

If the state Senate passes the bill on Thursday as expected, Democratic Governor Roy Cooper will almost certainly veto it. But Republicans have a supermajority in the House, thanks to a formerly Democratic lawmaker who switched parties in April, and can override Cooper's veto if the lone Republican who abstained from Wednesday's vote supports it.

The legislation would have far-reaching consequences for women who had been traveling to North Carolina for abortions from nearby conservative Southern states that banned or strictly limited the procedure after the US Supreme Court last year overturned the 1973 ruling establishing federal abortion rights.

Under the North Carolina proposal, elective abortions after the first trimester would be banned except in instances of rape, incest, life-limiting fetal anomalies and medical emergencies.

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