Nation & World

N.C. House overrides abortion bill veto

RALEIGH — By a single vote, the North Carolina House on Tuesday overrode the governor's veto of a bill intended to discourage abortions by requiring women to wait 24 hours, receive counseling and be shown an ultrasound before the operation can take place.

Lawmakers on both sides of the issue once again brought impassioned arguments to the floor. But none were as startling as Rep. Ruth Samuelson's debate-ending disclosure that she had once been raped. She was responding to some Democrats who argued that the bill would traumatize rape victims and in effect give rapists parental rights.

"Respecting her choice is traumatic and victimizing?" Samuelson said. "I'll tell you what's traumatic and victimizing."

Samuelson's remarks came at the conclusion of a lengthy debate, and she immediately moved to vote on the bill. When the override succeeded, pro-life supporters in the gallery broke into applause, and were gaveled to order by Speaker Thom Tillis.

Less dramatic was a vote to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of an unemployment insurance bill. The House also tried but failed to override her veto of legislation that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls.

Tillis has vowed the legislature will try to override any bills on which Republicans can muster a three-fifths majority. But the abortion bill had been one vote short of veto-proof since the House voted to approve it in June.

On Monday night, though, word reached Republican leaders that one Democrat had changed his mind. Rep. James Crawford, one of five conservative Democrats who have bucked their party on some key issues this year, would support the override.

Crawford, who represents Granville and Vance counties, on Tuesday joined three other Democrats who previously voted with Republicans to tip the scales with a 72-47 vote. Afterward, Crawford said he had voted against the abortion bill in June out of obligation to fellow Democrats.

"I tried to support my party but my heart wasn't in it, and I felt like this was the right way to go," Crawford said.

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