North Carolina Republican state lawmakers are converging on a proposal to prohibit abortion in nearly all cases after the first trimester of pregnancy, a top legislator said on Thursday.
House and Senate GOP members have been meeting separately in recent months to attempt to hammer out a consensus on additional abortion restrictions to consider following last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
State law currently bans nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Talking to reporters after a floor session, House Speaker Tim Moore said a consensus is developing in which Republicans would seek a ban after roughly 12 weeks, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest or fetal abnormality, or when the life of the woman is in danger.
“I think we’re really close to being on the same page,” Moore said. “I don’t want to get in all the details of it ... but kind of at a high level, that consensus position I think is what you’re going to see.”
Moore said previously that he personally favored a ban on abortions once an ultrasound first detects fetal cardiac activity, typically about six weeks after fertilization.
Senate leader Phil Berger expressed several months ago his support for restrictions after the first trimester.
Berger spokesperson Lauren Horsch said later Thursday that "conversations remain ongoing on the specifics of a proposal, but Senate Republicans remain hopeful that we can land on a proposal that will save the most innocent lives and become law.”
Moore said actual legislation would be revealed in the “coming weeks." He said details also were being worked on over provisions to make adoptions easier and to improve health care access for pregnant women as well as children. Lawmakers hope to adjourn this year's chief work session by early summer.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, a strong supporter of abortion rights, said in December that he would consider any measure banning abortion after less than 20 weeks extreme.
Republicans entered this year's General Assembly session with a veto-proof supermajority in the Senate but one seat short in the House. At the time, that meant the GOP would have needed assistance from at least one House Democrat to override a veto.
But this month House Republicans gained a veto-proof majority when then-Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County switched to the Republican Party.
Cotham returned to the House in January after being away for several years. During her previous legislative stint, Cotham spoke against legislation that extended a waiting period for abortions from 24 hours to 72 hours.
Asked two weeks ago about her current views on abortion, Cotham declined to address specifics but also said, "I am going to do what I believe is right and follow my conscience.”