NC rep pushes back against Gov. Cooper over abortion bill

CHARLOTTE — A North Carolina representative is responding to Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for veto support over the state’s new abortion bill.

North Carolina’s proposed 12-week abortion ban would ban nearly all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. It passed the House and the Senate this week and now, the bill is on Cooper’s desk. He said he’ll veto it, but the Republican Party has supermajorities in both chambers, allowing them to potentially override the veto.

In a video posted to Twitter, Cooper called on constituents to pressure Huntersville Rep. John Bradford, Mint Hill Rep. Tricia Cotham, and two Republicans from Wilmington into sustaining his future veto. Cooper said the representatives campaigned on keeping the law as is, which is also what Bradford and Cotham have both told Channel 9.

While running for office in October 2022, Bradford and Cotham shared in the Political Beat’s campaign guide that they supported the current law, which bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Bradford reiterated his position to the Political Beat’s Joe Bruno on Sept. 25, 2022.

“The law in North Carolina has been on the books since 1973 -- I doubt you were born, I was not born by then,” Bradford said then. “It’s 20 weeks. I am fine with the law. Anyone in North Carolina, you have the choice, up to 20 weeks.”

In the video, Cooper said the bill will force several clinics to shut down and will make abortion unavailable to many women. He said he will veto the bill, but asked the four representatives to keep their campaign promises and support the law as is.

In a fiery statement to Channel 9, Bradford rejected the governor’s plea.

“I am serving my 4th term in the legislature and the Governor wouldn’t know me if he bumped into me,” he said. “In March he hosted a Down syndrome advocacy event and despite being the leading advocate for Down syndrome in the state legislature I was excluded. Last session I was the primary bill sponsor for an organ donor transplant discrimination bill. He held a public bill signing event but chose not to invite me, the number one primary sponsor and Republican, and instead invited a Democrat legislator. In 2017, I sent him a personal letter and a box of I-77 toll lane markers that were coming loose and causing safety issues. I asked him to honor his campaign promise to cancel the I-77 toll roads. He ignored my letter and request. It’s ironic that Cooper acts like he knows me, wants to work with me or is even talking about honoring campaign promises.”

When running for office as a Democrat, now-Republican Rep. Cotham tweeted saying she will fight to codify Roe v. Wade and defend the right to choose. She also told the Political Beat she supports codifying the state law.

After switching to the Republican Party, she said it was too soon to say whether she would support new abortion legislation.

“I am going to do what I think is best for my district, best for the state, and I am going to listen to my heart,” she said.

Channel 9 has reached out to Cotham for a response to Cooper’s comments but has yet to hear back. The North Carolina GOP told Channel 9 it stands behind the legislation, saying, “We applaud the Republican majority for advancing this reasonable legislation to further protect life in NC. Despite the governor’s rhetoric, this proposal is well within the mainstream and we look forward to an override of his promised veto.”

The supermajority margins are slim. It will be an uphill battle, even if one Republican changes their vote. Democrats will have to be seated and prepared to vote at pretty much at all times for the remainder of the session.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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