North Carolina’s political showdown over abortion is personified by two leaders: its Democratic governor, Mr. Cooper, and Tim Moore, the Republican speaker of the State House of Representatives.
Mr. Cooper, a former attorney general, wants to preserve the state’s current law. He has ordered additional protections, including preventing the extradition of anyone involved in carrying out an abortion that is legal in North Carolina.
But Republican dominance in the legislature means the ability to veto is Mr. Cooper’s most potent tool. “Our law is restrictive enough in North Carolina right now,” Mr. Cooper said in a February interview.
Public polling explains the state’s political friction: A recent Meredith College poll of registered voters found that 57 percent of respondents wanted to preserve North Carolina’s current abortion law or expand it beyond the 20-week limit. About 35 percent of those surveyed supported a rollback of abortion access to 15 weeks or less.
Mr. Moore has said that a ban after 12 weeks — with some exceptions — is more likely to “garner the necessary support to become law.”
Mr. Moore also said in a recent podcast that a swing Democrat, whom he declined to name, was willing to vote for a 12- or 13-week curb. That crossover is potentially significant because House Republicans are one vote shy of a supermajority that would allow them to override a veto.
For now, even North Carolina residents are feeling the effect of bans in neighboring states: When Maria, a 31-year-old who lives outside Asheville, learned that she was unexpectedly pregnant in late June, she knew a baby was more than she could handle. Maria, who did not want to reveal her full name because of her family’s opposition to abortion, was coping with depression and, she says, several other medical conditions.
She called the nearest abortion clinic, which is in Asheville. The wait, she was told, was two months. She then called two clinics in Charlotte, about a two-hour drive away. One never responded. The other said it could take her the following month. She grabbed the appointment.