- When vetoing the Born Alive Infant Survivors Protection Act, Gov. Roy Cooper largely echoed rhetoric from Planned Parenthood regarding the bill.
- NC Democrats seem irrevocably tied to Planned Parenthood’s radical agenda, regardless of the wishes of their constituents.
Last week, the North Carolina House of Representatives failed to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Although Republicans have a majority in the chamber, they could not reach the higher three-fifths threshold needed to override a veto without seven Democrats joining them. They had two. (Senate Republicans were able to override the veto in April with the help of only one Democrat).
While tribalism was likely a factor in how events played out, campaign donations almost certainly held a great degree of influence as well.
National abortion provider Planned Parenthood is actively anti-life, and they made their position on this bill clear (see social media posts below). Planned Parenthood also spent a significant amount of money over the last two election cycles to help Democrats get elected. Exactly how much sway does the group have in North Carolina, and is it enough to have played a role in the outcome? State campaign finance documents reveal that it might have been.
Planned Parenthood National Position
A 2002 federal law clarified that infants born alive during an attempted abortion are entitled to the rights of personhood under the law. However, that bill had no affirmative obligation to provide care and also had no enforcement mechanisms for doctors that failed to provide care for those babies. Presumably to close the now-apparent loophole, the U.S. Senate considered but failed to pass a federal Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in February 2019.
Regarding the federal bill, Dr. Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, had this to say in a statement to reporters from the web site Vox:
“This legislation is based on lies and a misinformation campaign, aimed at shaming women and criminalizing doctors for a practice that doesn’t exist in medicine or reality.”
We’ll ignore the glaring falseness of this statement, with its implication that all abortion providers have a 100 percent success rate and that it ignores the existence of such survivors. The point of bringing it up now is to highlight that Planned Parenthood had taken a vocal stance on these bills. They have also conflated this legislation to abortion limitations being passed in other states – even though it does not actually limit abortion in any way, but instead adds protections for alive newborns.
Cooper’s Veto – Price: $989,000
In March of 2019, Sen. Joyce Krawiec filed the North Carolina Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act. It passed both chambers with bi-partisan support and was sent to Gov. Roy Cooper. He vetoed the bill, although his two stated reasons for the veto are not based in reality.
One of his reasons – that this type of infanticide by neglect never happens – seems to strongly echo rhetoric from the national stage, specifically Planned Parenthood’s comments in February.
The veto and justification language should probably come as no surprise when you consider that Planned Parenthood Action PAC spent nearly a million dollars on Cooper’s behalf in his gubernatorial election in 2016.
Some Planned Parenthood PAC spending went to positive promotion of Cooper while other expenditures were against his opponent, then-Governor and Republican Pat McCrory.
House Override Thwarted – Price: $510,000
This bill presents the first attempt by the General Assembly to override a veto since the Republicans lost their supermajorities in both chambers last fall.
Like Cooper, legislative Democrats also seem to be parroting Planned Parenthood’s statements, saying that this bill attempts to stigmatize abortion providers and shame women from getting abortions.
In the 2016 and 2018 elections, Planned Parenthood Action PAC spent over half a million dollars on current Democratic legislators in the North Carolina House.
Interestingly, although probably unsurprisingly, the PAC seemed to target its money strategically towards some of the most-known “flippable” seats in each of the two election cycles. This signals that the money was not about rewarding their most enthusiastic allies or punishing their most staunch opponents; it seemed to be about breaking the Republican supermajorities in one targeted chamber.
How much of an influence did Planned Parenthood contributions have on the outcome? Although we can’t be sure, we do know that two House Democrats that originally voted for the bill flipped on the veto override, voting with their party (Reps. James Gailliard and Raymond Smith). Even if those two had maintained their vote, it would not have been enough to get the veto override over the needed three-fifths threshold. But their willingness to flop suggests that there are external pressures at play.
But, what about the Senate?
Campaign finance documents showed that Planned Parenthood Action PAC did not spend any money on North Carolina State Senate races over the last two election cycles. The Senate needed only one Democrat (Sen. Don Davis) to vote with Republicans to override the veto. Awareness of the spending power of the Planned Parenthood PAC could still hang over the heads of Senate Democrats, however, which could be one reason why the other Democrat who voted for the bill originally, Sen. Ben Clark, did not vote for the override.
From a giving-efficiency perspective, it makes sense for the Planned Parenthood PAC to focus their efforts on breaking only one chamber’s Republican supermajority. Since the governor is a Democrat (which the PAC gave nearly a million dollars to help ensure), only one chamber had to be able to sustain the governor’s veto for Planned Parenthood to defend their industry in North Carolina.
But Democratic legislators from both chambers were likely aware of the spending power and primary challenger recruitment abilities of the pro-abortion lobby. That could have been enough to give any reasonable legislator, even those who acknowledge that this is not an abortion-limiting bill, hesitation to break party rank on this issue.
To be clear, the totals mentioned here do not represent a comprehensive list of the influence of pro-abortion groups in North Carolina politics. This article only highlights the spending of one PAC; others could be out there associated with Planned Parenthood or other pro-abortion groups, such as Lillian’s List or NARAL. Our figures also did not account for direct giving to campaigns or political parties.
Perhaps the most telling part of this story is the lack of coverage from the traditional media. I have yet to see a news story mention that Planned Parenthood was such a big donor for Cooper and the House Democrats when reporting on the veto and subsequent failed override. But with nearly $1.5 million on the line, is it any surprise that North Carolina politicians toed the line on Planned Parenthood’s radical, pro-infanticide agenda?
Note: Civitas intern Reaghan Waites contributed to the research for this article.