Where the Abortion Ban and 5 Other Key Bills Stand in the North Carolina Legislature

A protest against the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case passes by a restaurant on June 24, 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina.(Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

By Michael McElroy

May 9, 2023

Here’s a look at some of the measures that did and did not pass during the frenzy of last week’s legislative deadline. 

We need a vacation.

Lawmakers in the North Carolina General Assembly last week voted on a huge number of bills in a short amount of time, enacting significant changes, often with little debate. The mad rush was all to meet a procedural deadline known as “crossover.”

Under the legislature’s rules, most bills that did not pass at least either the state House or Senate last Thursday are now unable to get a final vote this legislative session. (There are some procedural maneuvers that lawmakers can still use to revive any bill it wants by adding budgetary elements or simply rewriting a bill that did pass).

Predictably, it was a frenzy.

The House on Thursday, for example, voted on some 50 bills, the last of which was the far-reaching 12-week abortion ban and all its hidden additional restrictions. That bill passed, and so did many others that could long hinder the state’s public schools, higher education systems, and, of course, reproductive freedom.

So where does North Carolina stand on some of these issues in the wake of this legislative chaos?

Here is a look at some bills that moved forward and some that did not.

What Passed?

12-week Abortion Ban (Senate Bill 20)

What It Does: 

  • Bans surgical abortion banned after 12 weeks and medical abortion after 10. 
  • Includes limited exceptions for rape, incest, “life-limiting” fetal anomalies, and the health of the mother. 
  • Imposes lots of new requirements that will bog down the system and make it harder for women to get abortions before 12 weeks or to actually take advantage of the exceptions. 
  • Creates stringent requirements for abortion clinics, which could force many to close.

Status: Passed both Senate and House and is on its way to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk. He said he would veto it, but the legislature very likely has the votes override the veto,

What’s Next: The veto and override vote will take place over the next week. 

Making Hoodies Criminal (House Bill 237)

What It Does: 

  • Would increase penalties for anyone who wore a mask or a hoodie while committing a crime. 
  • If you commit assault without a hoodie, it’s one kind of felony. If you commit the same assault in a hoodie, it’s a more serious felony. 
  • According to the ACLU of North Carolina, the bill would have a disproportionate effect on people of color, and would increase “racially biased enforcement.”

Status: The bill passed the House 93-24 and is now in a Senate subcommittee.

Financial Protections for Domestic Abuse Victims (House Bill 561)

What It Does: 

  • Would create a court process for domestic abuse survivors to disentangle themselves from any debt their abusers piled up in their name. 
  • Some 60% of survivors report financial abuse that can affect their credit scores and ability to find a job long after their abusers are out of their lives. 

Status: The bill passed the House 117-0 and is now in a Senate committee. 

What Did NOT Pass

Concealed Carry (House Bill 189)

What It Does: 

  • Ends a requirement that you need a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public
  • Lowers the age restriction to 18 to legally carry a concealed handgun in public. 

Status: Was removed from the House calendar at the last minute and did not receive a vote in either chamber. 

What’s Next: While it could be snuck in other legislation, Republican leadership have signaled that it’s unlikely to come back this session.

Let Doctors Deny Treatment (House Bill 819)

What It Does: 

  • Allows doctors or medical professionals to refuse non-emergency treatment if it clashes with their moral, religious or ethical beliefs. 
  • The bill would require those professionals to ensure someone else could provide that care, but in rural areas where there may not be another doctor, it runs the risk that people will be left without any options. 
  • The bill does not name any specifics, but contraceptives, abortion care and LGBTQ care would be particularly at risk. 

Status: Was not voted on last week..

What’s Next: Republican sponsors said in a committee hearing that they would work with Democrats to make some clarifications and changes. 

Drag Show Ban (House Bill 673)

What It Does: 

  • Ban drag shows in public or around children that contain “prurient” content, meaning sexualized. But even the existing statutes that this language is based on are vague enough that it could extend to even non-sexual contexts, like pride parades, theater and drag story hours. 

Status: Still stuck in the committee pipeline. Did not come up for a vote.

What Next: Legislators have said they would clarify the language. This is a candidate to find its way back this session, perhaps in a separate bill (SB 579) that passed the Senate and increases penalties for spreading obscenity to children. 

Author

  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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