Tell DHHS: Put Women’s Health FIRST

On Friday, December 19, the Department of Health is holding a public hearing on proposed regulations for abortion clinics in North Carolina and we need your help.

Stand with us at Dorothea Dix Campus in Raleigh on Friday morning December 19 Pledge to join us on December 19 and we’ll send you the details on where to meet and what to bring as we stand up for women’s health and abortion access.

For the last 18 months, we’ve been working hard to amplify the voices of women’s health experts, abortion providers, and concerned North Carolinians who believe that women’s health, safety and wellbeing – not a political agenda – should come first. Help us make sure that the Department of Health puts women’s health FIRST!

Can’t make it to Raleigh on December 19Here are THREE ways you make your voice heard:

  1. Pledge to post a public comment now through January 30
  2. Take social media by storm!  Tweet at @NC_DHHS and urge them to #PutWomensHealthFirst
  3. Host a rally in your town.  Click here and we’ll show you how.

As always, thank you for your commitment to protecting reproductive rights for all North Carolinians.

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RELEASE: DHHS Releases Rules for Abortion Clinics in North Carolina

December 1, 2014
Contact: Suzanne Buckley, 919-972-8486

DHHS Releases Rules for Abortion Clinics in North Carolina
Advocates caution that process must put women’s health before lawmakers’ political agenda

DURHAM, NC—Today the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released a set of rules regulating abortion providers in North Carolina, in accordance with SB 353, which the legislature passed in an extended legislative session this year.

“The Department of Health and Human Services has written a set of regulations with input from experts in the field of reproductive health care. At NARAL Pro-Choice NC, we believe it’s critical that this rule-making process not be politicized by the same political interests and lawmakers that sought to eliminate access to abortion care in the first place,” said Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.

“Make no mistake about it – the law that forced these rules to be written was backed by politicians with a single goal: to prevent women in North Carolina from accessing safe, legal abortion care,” continued Buckley. “We would welcome oversight and regulations that protect patient safety, but there is absolutely no medical basis for the restrictions proposed by the General Assembly. The law had nothing to do with keeping women safe, and everything to do with making it practically impossible for North Carolina women to access abortion care.”

DHHS will hold a 60-day a public comment period and a public hearing on Friday, December 19 before the new rules are approved. Buckley concluded, “During this period of public input, NARAL Pro-Choice NC will do everything possible to amplify the perspectives of women’s health experts, abortion providers, and concerned citizens who believe that women’s health, safety and wellbeing –not a political agenda– should come first in North Carolina. DHHS would be wise to heed that call.”

Regulations such as these – generally known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws – are a commonplace legislative tactic designed to force the closure of facilities where safe, legal abortions are provided by imposing burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements. Currently, 90% of North Carolina counties have no abortion provider, forcing 57% of women to travel great distances, often a full days drive, to access abortion care. “If the final regulations put politics over women’s health, women and families in North Carolina will lose access to a a wide range of essential reproductive health care services from cancer screenings to check-ups to abortion care, with rural and low-income women being hit the hardest,” said Buckley.

Recent polling found that 76 percent of those surveyed – representing all age groups, political affiliations, ethnicities and regions of the state – agree that decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family, and her faith, with the counsel of her doctor or health care provider, not a politician. “The fact is, North Carolinians are united in their agreement that politicians should not interfere in these personal decisions,” Buckley said.


Letts at UNCW

Emily Letts at UNCW: Let’s Stop Abortion Stigma!

By Ana Eusse, President of NARAL Pro-Choice NC’s student organization at UNC Wilmington

I was so pleased to have had the honor of hosting Emily Letts on the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s campus on November 6, 2014. B1x_qvLCYAAepeG

Prior to bringing Ms. Letts to campus, I knew relatively little about her except for her article that was printed in Cosmopolitan explaining her decision to film her own abortion.

I have to admit that the article was all I needed to know about her before immediately wanting to bring her to UNCW and showing unapologetic support for such a brave decision. As the president of the student organization NARAL Pro-Choice NC at UNCW, I thought it was time for the UNCW student population to have the opportunity to meet an advocate.

Letts at UNCW

The words support, respect, and caring were at the heart of her presentation. She didn’t include the politics of the abortion debate, but she also didn’t shy from advocating that abortion is and continues to be a personal decision. Emily Letts is more than the voice for a brave decision. Emily Letts is a leading advocate in eliminating the shame and stigma that has too long been attached to abortion. She encourages and empowers every individual to show compassion and kindness to women and families making reproductive decisions.


There is great power in someone whose main goal is to end abortion stigma and create a safe space so women can come together. From her advocacy, Emily Letts helped create Not Alone, an organization that allows women from the every corner of the world to share their stories, so others can witness the power in making these choices. Women from all over the world have exercised their right to choose, in fact, it’s been a choice we’ve had for over 4,000 years.

As we begin to see the confrontational agenda of those who wish to eliminate that choice, we must continue the fight to keep abortion safe and legal, but above all we must continue to let the voices of those brave women to be heard.

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.