(CNN)North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday vetoed a bill that would have required doctors to try to preserve the life of any infant born alive during an attempted abortion.
North Carolina governor vetoes 'born alive' abortion bill
The state's Republican-controlled Legislature had passed the bill, called the "Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act," this week.
In a letter announcing his veto, Cooper, a Democrat, wrote that laws "already protect newborn babies, and this bill is an unnecessary interference between doctors and their parents."
"This needless legislation would criminalize doctors and other healthcare providers for a practice that simply does not exist," Cooper wrote.
Under the proposed law, if an infant were born alive during an abortion attempt against it, any health care practitioner there would be required to "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonable diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age."
A health care practitioner who does not do that would be guilty of a class D felony. Additionally, anyone who intentionally "performs an overt act" that kills the child would be guilty of murder, the proposal says.
Most of the bill's supporters in the Legislature were Republicans, though it attracted affirmative votes from a few Democrat lawmakers.
Two of the bill's primary sponsors, Sen. Joyce Kawiec and Rep. Pat McElraft, said in a joint statement Thursday that "caring for a living, breathing newborn infant is too restrictive for Gov. Cooper's radical abortion agenda," according to CNN affiliate WRAL.
"We thought Democrats would agree that children born alive should be separate from the abortion debate, but it's clear that they want the 'right to choose' to even extend past birth," the two Republican lawmakers said. "This is a sad day for North Carolina."
The state Senate passed the bill Monday with a 28-19 vote, with three senators absent. Two Democrat senators voted for it.
The House passed it Tuesday with a vote of 65-46, with nine lawmakers absent or not voting. Four Democrat representatives voted yes.
To override Cooper's veto, legislators would need the approval of three-fifths of each chamber.