Posts mislead about status of North Carolina’s 2021 abortion bill
A bill introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives last year stated that anyone having an abortion should be “held accountable” for murder. The bill received little support and did not advance. But social media posts falsely claimed the state was considering a proposal that would “legalize the killing of a pregnant woman” trying to get an abortion.
Republican Rep. Larry Pittman introduced a bill in the North Carolina House of Representatives in February 2021 — long before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June – who said “human life begins at the time of fertilization” and that “new human life is recognized by the State as an individual, entitled to protection under the laws of the State from the time of fertilization until ‘to natural death’.
The bill provided that anyone who “deliberately seeks to destroy the life of another person, by any means, at any stage of life, or succeeds in doing so, shall be held liable for attempting to murder or first degree murder, respectively”. First degree murder is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.
The bill also stated that the state “has an interest and a duty to defend innocent persons from the willful destruction of their lives and to punish those who take the lives of persons, born or unborn, who have not committed any crime punishable by death”.
The bill has not moved forward. The North Carolina General Assembly website only lists five sponsors. Pittman, the title sponsor, is not running for office this year, according to the Office of the Principal State Clerk.
But comedian Amanda Seales wrongly claimed in a Instagram Video published on July 20 that North Carolina is considering a bill that would make it legal to “murder a pregnant woman who intends to have an abortion.”
Seales, with an image of the North Carolina House Bill 158 in the background, urged North Carolinas to vote. “If the Republicans win a super majority, this is the kind of shit that is, is going to happen in your state, and the blood will be on your hands,” she said.
Another one Instagram post with over 1,000 likes was posted by comedian TK Kirkland making a similar claim: “North Carolina bill proposes women who have abortions should face the death penalty.”
Republicans already control the North Carolina state legislature and hope to have a supermajority in 2023, Reported insider. This would allow them to override any veto by Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat who recently published an executive order to protect the right to abortion. North Carolina lawmakers adjourned on July 1, though they will meet repeatedly through the end of the year to consider bills related to election laws and other issues.
Pittman acknowledged long ago that his bill was long. “A lot of my bills haven’t even been heard since I’ve been here,” he said. said at a rally in September 2021, noting that he “tried to introduce a similar bill” in 2013. “I often have to be on my own,” he said. “I’m used to that.”
We tried to reach Pittman for further comment, but he did not respond.
“The fact that this happened in February 2021 and the first time we heard about it was in July 2022 tells us all we really need to know about the fact that this was never legislation that stood a chance. to become law,” Steven Greene, a political science professor at North Carolina State University, told us.
The bill “goes far beyond the most extreme pro-life legislation ever passed, and I find it hard to imagine it could win majority support, even among a very conservative group of Republican lawmakers.” , Greene said.
Had the bill been successful, it “goes so far that I would have to imagine it would be banned by the courts before it takes effect,” Greene said. However, he added, “it’s a brave new world we find ourselves in right now, where we’re still learning a lot about how far Republican lawmakers will go and how far the courts will let them.”
“This goes way beyond a ban on abortion,” University of North Carolina law professor Maxine Eichner told us in a phone interview. In theory, it authorizes the use of force against a pregnant woman on the grounds that “she is now harboring human life that any third party could defend,” Eichner said.
Pittman’s bill was proposed as an amendment to the state constitution, which requires approval by a three-fifths vote of the state House and Senate before going to ballot for voters. While the bill didn’t have a chance when it was introduced, things might be different after the November election, Eichner noted.
“I think there would definitely be legal challenges” of the bill, Eichner said. “Two months ago, I would have told you that these legal challenges would be successful.” But that’s not a sure thing now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and a US appeals court upheld Georgia law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, she said.
The Georgia law “had similar language on the personality of the fetus,” although it “does not directly address the issue of the use of violence against a person in defense of the fetus,” Eichner said.
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North Carolina General Assembly. House Bill 158. Accessed July 25, 2022.
North Carolina General Assembly. Session 2021. Resolution 2022-6. Accessed July 25, 2022.
Greene, Steven. Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, North Carolina State University. Email FactCheck.org. July 21, 2022.
Eichner, Maxine. Graham Kenan Emeritus Professor of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Phone interview with FactCheck.org. July 22, 2022.
Rahman, Khaleda. “N. Carolina Bill proposing that women who have abortions be executed sparks fury.“Newsweek. July 20, 2022.
Governor Roy Cooper. Press release. “Governor Cooper Signs Executive Order to Help Protect Women’s Access to Reproductive Health Care in North Carolina.” July 6, 2022.
Orecchio-Egresitz, Haven and Charles R. Davis. “A 2021 bill in North Carolina would allow lethal force to stop an abortion – but it’s unlikely to get a vote.” Initiated. July 19, 2022.
Castronuovo, Celine and Ian Lopez, Ian. “Georgia’s six-week abortion ban may take effect, according to court rules.Bloomberg Law. July 20, 2022.