N.C. Lawmaker Now Denies Having Abortion After Switching Parties

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The North Carolina lawmaker who switched parties to become a Republican earlier this year ― giving the go-ahead for a 12-week abortion ban to pass in the state ― said in a recent interview that she never had an abortion. The issue is that in 2015, during a floor speech arguing against an abortion restriction, she said that she did.

Rep. Tricia Cotham (R) said in an interview with local radio host Brett Jensen last week at the North Carolina Republican Convention that the media is mischaracterizing her statements from 2015. In her 2015 speech on the General Assembly floor, Cotham argued against a 72-hour mandatory waiting period for patients seeking abortion care. She spoke passionately about needing abortion care after she and her husband discovered her pregnancy was unviable. Cotham explained how devastating it was that they lost the wanted pregnancy but said she was grateful the decision was left to her, her husband and her doctor.

“My first pregnancy ended in an induced physician-assisted miscarriage. While I served in this chamber,” Cotham said in 2015.

“Abortion is a deeply personal decision. It should not be a political debate. My womb and my uterus is not up for your political grab,” Cotham continued. “Legislators, you do not hold shares in my body, so stop trying to manipulate my mind.”

But Cotham now says she miscarried and did not have an abortion.

“I think the hardest thing and the most unfortunate and deeply personal, and this is deeply wrong: I had a miscarriage, and a miscarriage in a medical term is called a spontaneous abortion,” she said in her interview with Jensen, which was first flagged by local news station WFAE 90.7.

“And so instead of saying ― first of all, they should not be talking about my miscarriage, that is just very painful and wrong ― but they’re repeating this message that I had an abortion. And that is false,” Cotham added. “And that has been extremely frustrating, and they keep on doing it, and that’s below the belt.”

Miscarriage and abortion care go hand-in-hand, as the medical procedure is the same for both. Abortion bans ― like the one Cotham supported in this session ― impact both. Jensen did not ask Cotham why she previously talked about her experience with miscarriage to support abortion rights.

Cotham did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Cotham had been a pro-choice advocate throughout her tenure in the state legislature before she switched parties in April. When Roe fell last year, she said she would “fight to codify Roe … and continue my strong record of defending the right to choose.” She made good on that promise in January when she co-sponsored a bill to codify abortion protections alongside her then-fellow Democratic colleagues.

Weeks after Cotham switched parties, Republicans introduced a 12-week abortion ban tucked into an unrelated piece of legislation allowing anti-choice lawmakers to evade the traditional committee process and head straight to a vote. The 12-week abortion restriction passed through the state House and Senate in less than 24 hours and with extremely limited public input. Cotham’s party switch gave Republicans the supermajority they needed to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. The 12-week ban, which includes restrictions on medication abortion, is set to go into effect on July 1.

Cotham voted to pass the 12-week ban and to override Cooper’s veto.

“Unfortunately, so many outlets… they keep saying that this is a ban. How can this be a ban when it’s still allowed?” Cotham said in her interview last weekend. “That’s one thing that’s very frustrating. There’s a lot of very good things in this bill with parental leave, with helping with maternal care, access to help prevent pregnancy.”

In addition to the 12-week restriction, the legislation limits providing medication abortion after 10 weeks. It also implements two in-person trips to an abortion clinic and the 72-hour waiting period that Cotham was fighting against in 2015.

The legislation does have exceptions for rape and incest through 20 weeks of pregnancy and an exception for the life of the pregnant person. It also clarifies that the removal of an ectopic pregnancy is not defined as an elective abortion.

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