vetoes records State Legislative Building. Budget impasse.
The North Carolina General Assembly meets in the State Legislative Building in Raleigh, seen here in Feb. 2018. File / Frank Taylor / Wmforo

The NC House of Representatives fell five votes short of a required 60 percent majority in a Republican-led effort Wednesday to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of SB 359, an abortion-related proposal.

The final House vote was 67-53. With all 120 members voting, the override would have required 72 votes to pass.

The bill, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, would have criminalized doctors who do not provide medical care to babies accidentally born alive during botched abortions.

In a year when legislatures around the country have passed a wave of controversial abortion-related legislation, the North Carolina bill drew substantial news media attention and heated rhetoric on social media, including from some members of the General Assembly.

Bill supporters said it was about protecting babies. Opponents said it applied to extremely rare situations in which existing laws already protect children. Democrats accused Republicans of using the measure to intimidate medical professionals who provide abortions.

A recent report from NC Politifact found that some of the rhetoric on both sides was false or misleading.

Due to Democratic gains in the 2018 legislative elections, Republicans lost their ability to override vetoes without Democratic support. A few weeks ago, the Senate voted to override with one Democrat joining Republicans for the necessary 60 percent margin, leaving the final decision up to the House.

House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, scheduled several House override efforts, then pulled them off the calendar each time. Democrats accused him of trying to find a day when enough Democrats would be absent for Republicans to get 60 percent of the House members present.

Moore announced in late May that the vote would take place June 5.

How the veto override vote broke down

In the earlier Senate vote, all members voted according to party lines, except for Sen. Don Davis, D-Pitt, who joined Republicans in the 30-20 vote.

In Wednesday’s 67-53 House vote Reps. Charles Graham, D-Robeson, and Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, were the only Democrats to join Republicans in supporting a veto.

During the initial vote to pass the bill in April, which required a simply majority, Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, was present but did not vote. McGrady voted in favor of overriding the veto on Wednesday.

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