RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Ahead of expected votes this week to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill restricting abortion access, a group of business owners in North Carolina said Monday they’re concerned about potential economic consequences.
They’ve signed a letter calling the legislation “dangerous” and warning of economic losses.
“So, why would we make North Carolina a less attractive place for companies to relocate to?” David Meeker asked, the owner of Trophy Brewing in Raleigh. “We’re competing with states like Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama on who can be at the bottom of the list for the companies to move to. Why would we do that?”
The bill Republicans passed earlier this month and that Gov. Cooper vetoed would restrict abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions would be allowed after that point for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities and protecting the mother’s life.
Current law bans abortion after 20 weeks with an exception for medical emergencies.
Republicans included $160 million in funding for various things such as child care, increased adoption and foster care assistance and paid parental leave for teachers and state employees.
Democrats have blasted the bill, warning it would have the effect of restricting abortion access earlier than 12 weeks due to additional in-person patient visits that would be required and new standards that would be placed on clinics.
“This is a very reasonable approach and comprehensive approach supporting women, supporting children and supporting families,” Rep. Erin Pare (R-Wake County) said. “This took us months to really go through every single provision of this bill to make sure we got it right for the people of North Carolina and our business community.”
Award-winning chef Ashely Christensen and other business owners recalled the national backlash against North Carolina when the General Assembly passed House Bill 2, known as the bathroom bill, in 2016. Organizers of various major events canceled them in protest and some employers chose to scrap plans to expand in the state.
“Abortion bans have a negative impact on our state’s economy, and it’s been a really rough handful of years,” Christensen said. “Just like HB2, abortion bans are bad for business.”
Rep. Pare responded to those concerns, saying, “I haven’t seen that outreach from the business community, and I think it’s because the Republicans in the state legislature have taken such a reasonable, mainstream approach.”
The General Assembly is expected to vote on overriding Cooper’s veto this week, beginning in the Senate.
Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers.
However, in the House, Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) was absent for the vote on the bill earlier this month and has not responded to questions about his position on it.
Gov. Cooper has publicly called on four Republicans to sustain his veto because of comments they made ahead of last year’s election about maintaining abortion access. Rep. Davis told voters he would vote to keep the law the way it is.
Republicans said they remain confident they’ll be able to override Gov. Cooper. If all lawmakers are present and voting at the time of the override attempt, House Republicans would need all 72 of their members to vote together for the override to be successful.