© 2024 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 910.343.1640
News Classical 91.3 Wilmington 92.7 Wilmington 96.7 Southport
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Rep. Tricia Cotham contradicts 2015 speech by saying she didn't have an abortion

Rep. Tricia Cotham gave an emotional speech in 2015 about having an abortion to save her life.
General Assembly
Tricia Cotham gave an emotional speech in 2015 about having an abortion to save her life.

State Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County said in a recent interview that her opponents are mischaracterizing her past by saying she had an abortion.

But Cotham herself made that assertion in a 2015 public speech on the floor of the General Assembly.

When she gave that speech, she was a member of the Democratic Party and had been in the state House since 2007. She made it clear that she and her doctor decided to terminate her pregnancy because her life and the life of her child were in danger.

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

Cotham emphasized again that it was not a natural miscarriage.

“It’s not the type of miscarriage that we often think of where you lose the baby completely and it’s over,” Cotham said. “That’s not what happened. My doctor told me that my pregnancy would likely not be viable and that if I did not take swift medical action my life and any hope of future babies would be in severe danger. I trusted my doctor and her medical expertise.”

She then went into detail about how painful the procedure was. She finished her speech by saying that lawmakers should have no place in such decisions.

“This decision was up to me,” she said. “My husband. My doctor. And my God. It was not up to any of you in this chamber.”

Her passionate speech drew national attention. Time magazine featured it in a story about women lawmakers discussing their own abortions. It quoted Cotham as saying she wrote the speech so “somebody out there could maybe not feel shamed.”

The speech drew attention again this year when Cotham switched from being a Democrat to a Republican. This spring, she voted for a ban on most abortions after 12 weeks, though the bill — which is now law after Cotham voted with her Republican colleagues to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto — would allow for the type of medical procedure she spoke of in 2015.

In an interview last weekend at the North Carolina Republican Party convention in Greensboro with WBT radio’s Brett Jensen, Cotham said it was false that she had an abortion. In a 30-second comment on the issue, she characterized what happened to her as a natural miscarriage.

“I think the hardest thing and the most unfortunate — deeply personal — and this is deeply wrong,” Cotham said. “I had a miscarriage, and a miscarriage in medical terms is called a spontaneous abortion. And instead of saying — first of all — they should not be talking about my miscarriage, that is just very painful and wrong — but they are repeating this message that I had an abortion. And that is false. And that is completely frustrating and they keep on doing it and that’s below the belt.”

A spontaneous abortion is widely considered to be the loss of pregnancy naturally before 20 weeks of gestation.

Cotham told WFAE by text that she was too busy working on the state budget to speak about the issue.

Cotham, who is from Mint Hill, angered Democrats by switching parties earlier this year. She was elected to the state House from a heavily Democratic district that includes her home in Mint Hill as well parts of east Charlotte.

Sign up for our weekly politics newsletter

Select Your Email Format

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.