Republican lawmakers in North Carolina failed Wednesday to override a veto by the state's Democratic governor against a proposal to create criminal penalties for doctors and nurses for failing to care for an infant during an unsuccessful abortion.
Lawmakers debated Senate Bill 359 -- known as the "Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act" -- for more than an hour before voting 67-53. The effort failed to get the supermajority -- 72 votes -- needed to override Gov. Roy Cooper, and hands pro-choice groups a victory after a slew of restrictive abortion bill defeats in recent weeks.
"It's important to protect the lives of all children, and laws already exist to protect newborn babies," Cooper said in a statement following the vote.
The measure would have required medical professionals to care for newborns who survive an abortion and grant them the same protections as other patients instead of allowing them to die after the unsuccessful procedure. Those who don't comply could have faces prison time and up to $250,000 in fines.
Unlike in other states that have passed abortion bills in recent weeks, the North Carolina measure wouldn't have narrowed the window for when a woman could get the procedure.
The GOP-led state House and Senate approved the measure before Cooper vetoed it. The Senate voted to override the veto weeks ago. All that was needed was for the House to follow suit.
President Trump has expressed support for "born-alive" bills. At a Wednesday news conference before the vote, state Republicans said the bill was not about abortion.
“This is about taking care of infants who have survived abortion,” said state Sen. Joyce Krawiec, Raleigh's News & Observer reported.
Kelsea McLain, community outreach director for the Women’s Choice abortion care provider in the Raleigh area, said the bill was part of a nationwide trend to criminalize abortion.
“We’re just here to make sure folks know that this a bad bill, it’s not a bill based in a need, it’s a bill based in stigma and not science,” McLain said, according to the paper, adding that the legislation is "rooted on the idea that abortion is inherently bad and the providers of that care are bad people, when it’s really not the reality that we’re up against.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.