By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
January 13, 2023
North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore said on the first day of the legislative session Wednesday that the chamber will tackle the issue of abortion this year, although he said specific details are still unknown.
Moore, 52, was elected speaker on Wednesday for a record fifth time and largely avoided hot-button issues during his opening address, saying he wants the body to continue to work together to reach a “consensus when we can on various issues of the day.”
Outside the chamber on Wednesday, Moore told reporters that legislators will work on a bill to further restrict abortion. Under current North Carolina law, abortion is restricted after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Republicans increased their majorities in both the House and Senate during the last election, which makes it more likely that a pro-life bill will pass.
Moore noted that Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger supports a ban after 13 weeks.
“I’m hearing a lot of support for that position in the House as well,” Moore said. Republicans have formed a working group to study the issue, he said.
“These [talks] are in the early stages,” Moore said. “And what I want to see happen is I want to see a true working process. And also, I want to talk about things like improving the way adoptions are done — reforming that — [and] improving access to health care for expectant mothers as well as children. I want to try to do it in a way that’s comprehensive. And so that’s going to require a lot of conversation.
“And guess what? We’re also gonna be talking to Democrats across the aisle and I will tell you that I’ve had a couple of Democrats that when I mentioned that idea to them, they go, ‘I can do that.’”
Moore declined to cite any specific Democratic names but said the names would “surprise you.” Last year, Moore favored a heartbeat ban, which would restrict abortion to around six weeks.
Berger said current law is too liberal for the state. Any new bill should have exceptions for rape and incest, he added.
“Our law does not allow an exception for rape, does not allow an exception for incest, and I think we need to change that,” Berger said outside the chamber. “I also think that 20 weeks is, in essence, five months into a pregnancy. I think if you look at where the people of the state of North Carolina are, they think that that’s too long.”
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League responded to the comments by both Moore and Berger, saying talk of a 13-week ban was concerning.
“The Christian Action League believes the state should do much better than a 13-week ban. Pro-lifers didn’t work for fifty years to overturn Roe v. Wade to get a ban that wouldn’t even save the majority of babies targeted for abortions,” said Rev. Creech. “Conservative Citizen Christians should be praying earnestly that lawmakers approve restrictions that will save the most babies. Christians need to speak with their lawmakers about this life and death issue. This situation is going to test them as never before. The integrity of Republicans’ claims to be pro-life will definitely be on the line.”
Republicans in the Senate now have a supermajority, allowing them to overturn vetoes by the governor. The GOP House is one vote short of a supermajority.
During his address after being re-elected House Speaker, Moore cited multiple issues he wants the chamber to tackle, including “learning loss,” health care and the “behavioral health crisis.”
“That is something that is happening throughout the country,” he said of the behavioral crisis. “I believe that is something we must deal with this session.”
The North Carolina House, Moore said, is unique from other political bodies in the U.S. in that members of both parties work together for solutions.
“You’ll notice there’s not a lot of yelling that goes on,” he said. “Actually, the members of this body have conversations with each other. Yes, there will be times that we disagree on various items of policy, that’s part of the process. But what I’ve always seen is folks who value the opinions, even those they don’t agree with, listen to what folks have to say, have a discussion and try to come up with a consensus when we can on various issues of the day.”
It is Berger’s seventh term as president pro tempore. Berger urged members to “keep regulations in check,” address critical infrastructure needs and support “educational opportunities for our students.” He also addressed the issue of parental involvement in schools.
“Parents across North Carolina want a greater say in their child’s education, from being involved and knowledgeable about curriculum to the opportunity to send their child to a school that fits that child’s and educational needs,” Berger said during his address to the chamber. “Our schools must be focused on serving students and parents.”
Like Moore, Berger also encouraged legislators to work together.
“While the voters returned a Republican supermajority to this chamber endorsing the conservative policies that have restored North Carolina as the leader in the southeast, I believe we can achieve a shared goal of moving North Carolina forward despite any disagreements,” Berger said. “We owe it to the people of this great state to work tirelessly for them.”