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NC Gov. Vetoes Anti-Eugenics Bill That Would Have Saved Babies with Down Syndrome from Being Targeted for Abortion

06-28-2021
(Woody Marshall/News & Record via AP)
(Woody Marshall/News & Record via AP)

North Carolina's Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a Republican-backed bill that would have banned providers from performing abortions due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

The governor labeled House Bill 453, also known as Human Life Nondiscrimination Act/No Eugenics, as "unconstitutional."

"This bill gives the government control over what happens and what is said in the exam room between a woman and her doctor at a time she faces one of the most difficult decisions of her life," Cooper said in a statement. "This bill is unconstitutional and it damages the doctor-patient relationship with an unprecedented government intrusion."

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HB 453 also sought to outlaw abortions on the basis of race, sex, and genetic abnormalities. 

House Speaker Tim Moore (R-NC) strongly opposed the veto.

"Gender, race, and disability are protected classes in most other contexts. Why should we allow the unborn to be discriminated against for these same traits?" said Moore. "The message sent by this veto is that some human life is more valuable than others based on immutable characteristics."

In a statement, NC Values Coalition condemned Cooper's explanation for rejecting the bill.

"Saving unborn babies who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome from being targeted for selective abortion based solely on their disability prevents discrimination," the statement reads. "Ending that kind of discrimination based on a disability is most certainly not an 'unprecedented government intrusion' as Cooper said, because our Civil Rights laws were intentioned to end just that kind of discrimination. The Governor should mind his own 'unprecedented government intrusions' in the past year."

And Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance) said, "With a stroke of his pen, Gov. Cooper just told North Carolinians that it's OK to discriminate based on race or disability as long as it's in the womb. This bill simply put an end to eugenics."

Down syndrome is a genetic abnormality that causes developmental delays and medical conditions such as heart defects and respiratory and hearing problems. 

According to the National Down Syndrome Society, about one in every 700 babies in the United States — or about 6,000 a year — is born with the condition, which results from a chromosomal irregularity. 

HB 453 requires bipartisan support and will head back to the legislature where the General Assembly could vote to override the veto.

Have you have had an abortion, are contemplating ending your pregnancy, or would like pregnancy-related resources, please click here.

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