Republicans Are Coming for Reproductive Freedom in NC. Here’s What We Know. 

North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham announces she is switching affiliation to the Republican Party at a news conference Wednesday, April 5, 2023, at the North Carolina Republican Party headquarters in Raleigh, N.C. The change gives Republican state legislators a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum)

By Leah Sherrell

April 5, 2023

North Carolina laws today make it a relatively “safe haven” for abortion rights in the South. But those rights are in serious jeopardy after Charlotte Democrat Tricia Cotham’s defection to the GOP.

[Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know needs help finding an abortion provider, Planned Parenthood has a tool that can help you find one near you.]

Yesterday, Trisha Cotham, a Representative of Mecklenburg County’s predominantly Democratic 112th district, announced that she is switching parties. 

While she ran on promises of codifying Roe, Cotham on Tuesday indicated she is open to passing abortion restrictions in North Carolina. And with Republicans now having a supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly, they are likely to cut off thousands from their ability to choose.

House Speaker Tim Moore reportedly said as much this week, telling reporters that a ban on abortions after 12 weeks is what will most likely pass his chamber.  

Until that happens, here’s what you need to know about accessing abortions in North Carolina:

Where NC Stands Today

  • Abortions are legal at up to 20 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy unless there is a medical emergency that requires one at a later stage. Abortions obtained after 20 weeks are often due to serious health complications with the mother or fetus. This ban already prevents doctors from administering life-saving treatment in a timely manner – many have to wait until the patient is closer to death before acting.  
  • Before you can make an appointment with an abortion provider, you will go through a state-mandated counseling session that provides medically unnecessary information, like an ultrasound, designed to discourage you from the abortion. This counseling restriction is not mandatory for any other medical procedure. 
  • After the counseling session you must wait 72 hours, or three days, before getting the abortion. The waiting period can be waived if there is a medical emergency. 
  • Medicaid recipients and state employees cannot use their state-funded insurance to cover an abortion unless it is a case of emergency, rape, or incest. 
  • Medication abortion, or the abortion pill, is a viable option until 11 weeks of pregnancy, but North Carolina law prohibits you from using telemedicine to obtain the medication. 
  • Minors need parental consent or a judicial waiver before they can get an abortion. 
  • It is not illegal for you to travel out of state to obtain an abortion.  

How did we get here? 

In 2022, when the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, it gave states the power to decide if abortion would continue to exist safely within their borders.

For North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers, who have chipped away their citizens’’ ability to access abortion from the moment Roe was passed, this could not have come at a better time. Last year was an election year for the NC General Assembly, and for many, abortion access was at the front of their minds when they filled out the ballot. 

Gov. Roy Cooper has been able to veto abortion ban bills passed by Republicans, but the 2022 midterm results and Cotham’s defection should render Cooper’s veto just short of symbolic. 


  • Leah Sherrell

    Leah Sherrell is a multimedia reporter for Cardinal & Pine. A graduate of UNC-Wilmington, she's a resident of Kernersville with a background in video production and communication. Leah uses many forms of media to explore the multifaceted lifestyles and cultures present in North Carolina.

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