On Your Reading List: The Guttmacher Institute’s Winter 2014 Policy Review – “A Surge of State Abortion Restrictions Puts Providers – And the Women They Serve – in the Crosshairs”

The Guttmacher Institute is a non-profit organization which works to advance reproductive health.

The Guttmacher Institute is a non-profit organization which works to advance reproductive health.

The Guttmacher Institute just released the Winter 2014 edition of their Policy Review, entitled “A Surge of State Abortion Restrictions Puts Providers – And the Women They Serve – in the Crosshairs.” As the beginning of the 2015 legislative session draws near, pro-choice advocates in North Carolina should look not only at what legislation will likely be proposed in NC, but also the legislative trends attacking abortion rights throughout the country. Understanding national political trends is essential to protecting access to reproductive choice for all women and families in North Carolina because women and families pay the price for these restrictions which are falsely touted as protecting women’s health.

The review discusses the surge of state-level abortion restrictions that have dominated state legislatures the past three years – there were more state abortion restrictions enacted in 2011-2013 (205 restrictions) than in the entire previous decade (189 restrictions from 2001 to 2010).  Targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP), limits on the provision of medication abortion, bans on private insurance coverage of abortion, and bans on abortion at 20 weeks are the four major categories of abortion restrictions predominantly seen sweeping legislatures. However, a few states have made efforts to protect access to abortion. It is time for pro-choice advocates to fight back against the relentless attacks that have faced reproductive choice – not only in defeating the anti-choice legislation, but by introducing our own pro-choice measures to protect the health of North Carolina women and families.

Click here to read the review.

Image courtesy of the Repeal Hyde Art Project. http://www.repealhydeartproject.org/

How Reproductive Justice Can Touch the Lives of Black Women

The following guest post by Emma Akpan is cross-posted with permission from the author.  The original post appeared at http://www.womenadvance.org. 

I only just recently stumbled upon the phrase,“reproductive justice.” And by recently, I mean in the past year. I’ve identified with being “pro-choice” almost all my life and I’ve believed that access to safe and legal abortion and birth control should be easy for all women. But I’ve always felt that there was more to it.

Reproductive justice, a term coined by black women activists in 1994, is more comprehensive than pro-choice, and it’s a term that speaks to my sense that something is missing from the choice conversation. While the pro-choice movement focuses on access to birth control and abortion, it relies on the notion that women have a choice to have children or not. Reproductive justice asks the question: what if women, for many reasons, don’t have a choice?

What if a woman wants to get birth control, but has no medical centers close by to give her a prescription?

What if she can’t get birth control because she’s one of the approximately 400,000 North Carolinians in the Medicaid gap for health care coverage?

What if she lives in an area of the state where there is no comprehensive sex education and she’s been taught that abstinence is the only way to prevent pregnancy?

The good news is that a coalition of national black women reproductive justice organizations has adopted a national black women’s reproductive justice agenda. The agenda comes at a essential moment, with reproductive and health access rights being slashed across the country. In the past three years the North Carolina General Assembly has tried to cut funding from Planned Parenthood, passed a bill that makes a women seeking an abortion wait 24 hours, and championed the infamous Motorcycle Vagina Billthat closed the doors on many abortion providers in our state.

The women hurt most by these pieces of legislation are North Carolina’s neediest: they are low-income, living in rural areas, and black women. And these are not policies that black women support.

The coalition conducted a study of more than 1,000 black women, and they overwhelmingly supported safe and legal abortion, access to birth control, and comprehensive sex education. Even across varying degrees of religiosity, black women believe that access to reproductive rights are common sense. The women surveyed believe that instead of making abortion illegal, the focus must be on preventing pregnancies. I agree this makes the most sense because without unwanted pregnancies, abortion providers would do far less business.

The idea of reproductive justice, looking beyond the simple choice of having or not having a child, will naturally bring more people to the conversation. I’m religious, and when I was growing up I didn’t find many spaces to talk about these health issues, unless it was done very privately with my friends or family. Abortion is a touchy subject, and even those of us who are religious and identify as “pro-choice” have varying opinions about it.

I’m happy that these conversations are continuing to happen on the national stage. Black women — all of us — need the space to talk about our reproductive rights and how it affects our lives, families, and communities. And I believe the idea of reproductive justice brings us one step closer to the common ground we need to support every woman in making the best and healthiest choices she can.


Election Night News from NARAL NC

Tonight, North Carolina voters have sent three anti-choice leaders in the NC General Assembly packing.  Thanks to the work of pro-choice voters across the state of North Carolina, incumbents Tom Murry (HD-41), Tim Moffitt (HD-116) and Nathan Ramsey (HD-115) have been unseated tonight. “Seventy-six percent North Carolinians agree that politicians should not interfere in a woman’s reproductive health decision-making yet each of these incumbents have consistently supported government interference.  North Carolina voters have responded by standing up for their values and sending these anti-choice incumbents home,” said Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice NC.
We Decide 2014

#NCVotesEarly: Remember When Our Legislature Slashed the Early Voting Period?

On the final day of early voting in North Carolina, it’s worth remembering that we had almost twice as many days to early vote in prior years, opportunities that women and African-American communities use most to cast their political picks at the polls.  day10_early_vote.v.2

The reason we have 10 versus 17 early voting days this year is simple: the state’s Senate leaders were intent on limiting North Carolinians access to the polls. They proposed and passed limits not simply cutting early voting short by a week, but also eliminating same-day registration for early voting, ending pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds who will be 18 on Election Day, and cutting short voting on the Saturday before the election (that’s today).

The legislation also passed the state House with the support of speaker Thom Tillis and with Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature.

Now, in addition to the ills above, polls can no longer be held open an extra hour on Election Day for “extraordinary circumstances.” And the law makes it easier to challenge voters’ legitimacy and removes the option of voting for a party’s entire ticket at once.

Democratic state Sen. Josh Stein called the law a “monstrosity.” The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights labeled it “the single worst bill we have seen introduced since voter suppression bills began sweeping the country two years ago.”

Now’s our final chance to make our voices heard on the issue. Vote today or on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

For candidates who support your right to vote, check out our custom NARAL Pro-Choice NC Voters’ Guide.

#ThatsSCARYNC: Remember when our legislature tried to deny access to cancer screenings?

In this very special Halloween edition of our Election 2014 countdown, it’s worth acknowledging one of the scarier moves the North Carolina legislature made since its conservative leadership came into power.

With Speaker of the House Thom Tillis at the helm, the General Assembly inserted anti-woman provisions into the 2012 state budget which effectively eliminated life-saving cancer screenings, annual exams, birth control, and STI testing and treatment for low-thats_scary_4income and uninsured North Carolina women, men, and teens who sought preventive health care at Planned Parenthood.

Whether or not the goal was to prevent more women from being able to access reproductive health care services, the impact was just that, and today it’s easy to argue that because of this legislative leadership’s long-standing policy of putting women behind special interests, the health and safety of hundreds of thousands of North Carolina voters could have been at risk.

Now, Speaker Tillis is Senatorial candidate Tillis, who carries some serious baggage not only for his defunding of essential medical care for low-income women, but also his leadership around the now-infamous “Motorcycle Abortion Bill,” which placed a set of strict abortion restrictions onto an unrelated provision on motorcycle helmets.

He faces pro-choice, and for many women, “clear choice” Senator Kay Hagan. Let’s hope the only thing that goes bump in the night this Halloween is Sen. Hagan’s polling numbers heading into Election Day.

For more candidates who won’t put women at risk, check out our custom NARAL Pro-Choice NC Voters’ Guide.

#NCVotesEarly: Because of that time Thom Tillis tried to deny us birth control.

There’s no denying that Thom Tillis is on the side of extreme special interest groups and has a long track record of interfering with personal, private medical decisions that should be left between a woman and her doctor.

After all, he openly opposes a woman’s right to choose and helped push sweeping abortion restrictions through the N.C. General Assembly, sneakingday8_early_vote.v.2 them first into a Sharia Law bill, and then when that failed, into an unrelated motorcycle safety bill.

But Tillis hasn’t stopped there.

He also opposed increased access to birth control in an effort to cut off a woman’s ability to prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place. What’s worse is that he applauded the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that enables bosses at corporations like Hobby Lobby  to deny their employees access to birth control.

Tillis even thinks states should have the right to ban contraceptives.

Fortunately, his opponent Sen. Kay Hagan’s support for women is clear.  She voted against an unsuccessful amendment in 2012 that would have allowed employers to refuse to provide insurance coverage for health services they disagreed with, including birth control.

For a list of additional candidates who support women, check out our custom NARAL Pro-Choice NC Voters’ Guide.

#NCVotesEarly: Because of that time Thom Tillis said his female opponent was bad at math.

Back in August, Thom Tillis released an ad accusing his opponent Sen. Kay Hagan of being bad at math.day7_early_vote.v.2

“Math is lost on Senator Hagan,” he told audiences from his trusty dry erase board.

What was lost on the Republican candidate was that by calling his female opponent bad at math — an opponent who happens to also be a senator, a banking lawyer who previously wrote state budgets, and a member of the Senate Banking Committee — he exhibited a level of sexism that as one commentator put it, made his problem with North Carolina women “past the point of no return.”

Fortunately, our math reveals that Sen. Hagan has maintained a double-digit lead in support by women against Tillis in the months since the ad was released.

Watch the ad below – and see how Tillis doesn’t quite add up:

For a list of candidates who believe in women, check out our custom NARAL Pro-Choice NC Voters’ Guide.