Image via ThisisPersonal.org

Fact-Check: OTC Birth Control

In last night’s debate between Senator Kay Hagan and Speaker Thom Tillis, there was a lot of talk about birth control.  If you were listening closely, you heard something new: Speaker Tillis claimed to support increased access to birth control, and proposed to do this by making some forms of birth control available over-the-counter (OTC).

Don’t be mislead folks.  As our friends at Planned Parenthood Action Fund pointed out, “[o]pponents of women’s health are proposing to move birth control over-the-counter as a part of their larger effort to take away insurance coverage for birth control — forcing women to pay out-of-pocket instead of keeping the coverage they have today.”  The reality is that making some forms of birth control available OTC may increase access for some individuals, but birth control would become more expensive and less affordable for most women and families since most health insurance plans don’t cover OTC products without a prescription.

The lack of affordable contraception is a real problem that we encourage more lawmakers to sincerely address but making some forms of birth control available OTC is not a comprehensive solution.  A national survey from the Center for American Progress showed that in 2012 women with private insurance already paid about 50 percent of the total costs for oral contraceptives, while the typical cost of noncontraceptive drugs is only 33 percent.  The high cost of birth control has real, potentially harmful consequences. The same CAP survey found that the high cost of contraception forced many women to stop or delay using their preferred method of birth control while others were forced to depend on less effective methods because they were most affordable.  With 98% of American women using some form of birth control in their lifetimes, it’s long past due for lawmakers to recognize that birth control is basic and essential health care that should be both affordable and accessible.

 

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Tillis’ Lady Problem

Tillis' Lady Problem

In a move surprising no one, Speaker Thom Tillis took to the airwaves to accuse Senator Kay Hagan, his opponent in the US Senate race, of being bad at math.  Let that sink in for a minute…

This isn’t the first time Tillis has used thinly-veiled sexism as a political tactic. Just a few months ago, he accused Rep. Susi Hamilton of being “emotional” in response to her strong advocacy for a bill that would protect jobs in her district. Keep it up Tillis! Women remember and women will vote in November!

Broken Cookies

Special Delivery: Broken Cookies for Broken Promises

On Thursday, July 24, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina activists delivered broken cookies to the Governor’s Mansion to mark the up-coming one-year anniversary of Governor McCrory’s broken promise not to support restrictions on access to abortion care.  Last July, Governor McCrory signed into law Senate Bill 353, a series of restrictions on reproductive health care.  The next day, the governor delivered cookies to NARAL Pro-Choice NC and other reproductive rights advocates protesting his broken promise outside the Governor’s Mansion. “Governor McCrory broke his promise to North Carolina voters when he signed Senate Bill 353 into law last year, and today we are delivering broken cookies to remind him of his broken promise,” said NARAL Pro-Choice NC Executive Director Suzanne Buckley.

Watch our special delivery below:

Do you remember the campaign promise McCrory made to North Carolinians?

On October 24, 2012, candidate Pat McCrory was asked “If you are elected governor, what further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign?” He responded, “None.” McCrory’s promise was clear. If elected governor, he would not restrict access to abortion care.

Then, on July 30, 2013, Governor McCrory signed the now infamous “Motorcycle Abortion” bill into law breaking that promise.

Close to half of all North Carolinians don’t know that Gov. McCrory broke his promise. We have to fix that and we need your help to do it.  

Will you share this image on Facebook to help us spread the word?

 

 

I remember & will vote in November

Guest post by Rebecca Mann.

This time last year, North Carolinians were gearing up for the Independence Day holiday. Certain members of the North Carolina Senate took that preparation a step further and sent their morals on vacation, as they hastily attempted to secretly add anti-choice provisions into an existing bill on Sharia Law, then vote on that bill just hours before the break. Apparently they thought we would be too busy packing our sunscreen or prepping our outdoor grills to notice. They were wrong. Although we all know the result of their actions over those two days now (not good), the reason I can look back on that time and smile is because of the outstanding organizing done by pro-choice activists across the state to show legislators that we were and are watching them.

Here’s a look back at how it all unfolded.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

5:20pm   Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, announces a recess and said the Judiciary 1 Committee would meet at 5:30 p.m. The meeting was to discuss SB 695, which—up until that point—was written to prohibit North Carolina from recognizing “foreign law” in court.

5:30pm:  Judiciary I Committee Meeting Begins

From WRAL.com: “Lobbyists with nonprofits that have religious or moral purposes, including the Family Policy Council, Christian Action League and North Carolina Values Coalition, were in the room for the committee debate and the subsequent Senate floor debate. Senators noted that those lobbyists were given notice of the bill and its contents ahead of time.”  NARAL Pro-Choice NC’s Executive Director and other lobbyists for pro-choice groups were given none. You can read more here.

6:00-7:00pm:  Word begins to leak out about the anti-choice amendments .

7:00pm:   NARAL Pro-Choice NC Speaks Out Against the Bill

“In the final minutes of marking up an unrelated piece of legislation, the Senate Judiciary committee swiftly tacked on every anti-choice piece of legislation introduced since January to this bill and sent the bill to the floor with no warning in a rare evening session,” stated Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. … This is a cowardly move intended to silence pro-choice voices because they know that if they show their extreme agenda in the light of day, they’ll hear from us.”

7:12pm:  I send my senator a strongly worded email. (It didn’t work.)

8:12pm:  National news outlets pick up the story

“It seems to me that they’re trying to pass under cover of darkness legislation that would not otherwise be passed,” NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina executive director Suzanne Buckley said. “They’re trying to pull a Texas.”

HuffPo Reports on NCGA Sneak Attack

HuffPo Reports on NCGA Sneak Attack

 

For the rest of the evening, NARAL Pro-Choice NC and its coalition partners sound the alarm and spread the word to gather at the General Assembly the following day at 9am. Over 85,000 people across the country heard NARAL Pro-Choice NC’s call to action through social media in less than 12 hours.

NARAL Pro-Choice NC Sounds the Alarm

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

7:00am:  I meet friends at a parking lot in Greensboro and we pile into my car to head to the NCGA.

8:30am:  We arrive in Raleigh as the pro-choice crowd is gathering.  The Senate chamber is already packed, and the rotunda is filling with pro-choice North Carolinans of all ages, races, and hometowns. There are babies in strollers and seniors in wheelchairs, ladies who lunch and students subsisting on ramen. It’s exciting to be with all of these people intent on holding legislators accountable for their actions. Several older women, a college student and I crowd around my iPhone while I use it to stream the sound from the floor debate. Although there are impassioned speeches from pro-choice legislators, they are sadly outnumbered.

A view from the Gallery

A view from the Gallery

Votes are cast and decades of anti-choicers’ legislative fantasies win. NCGA security warn us to be quiet, but a chant of “SHAME SHAME SHAME” begins and quickly moves throughout the building as legislators leave. We see several pro-choice legislators outside, some in tears, hugging constituents and vowing to continue the fight. News and Observer photographers did a good job capturing the morning.

A year later, I still get emotional thinking about that twelve-hour span of time. But my strongest emotion is pride—in NARAL Pro-Choice NC and its leadership, and in the entire pro-choice movement in our state.  That day, we vowed to not forget the anti-choice legislators who put aside decency to push through measures intended to take basic, personal rights away from North Carolinians.

I remember what happened last summer, and I take those memories with me into the voting booth in November.

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Reproductive Justice Summit: A Reflection

By Maddie Majerus, NARAL Pro-Choice NC’s Organizing Intern

 Attending the Reproductive Justice Summit was a highly rewarding experience! While I learned about many different aspects of reproductive justice, the most interesting topic I learned about was the state of sexual education in North Carolina. I was in high school before the Healthy Youth Act was passed, and my sex ed class definitely reflected that. My high school provided the “Mean Girls” version of sex ed. My gym teacher told our class, “When I was your age, the worst thing that could happen if we had sex was that we could get pregnant. The worst thing that could happen to you now is that you could die.” It was a week of scare tactics, terrifying pictures of diseased ovaries, and no real information about sex, other than it should be avoided at all costs. My little sister is entering high school this next year, and while sex ed still isn’t perfect in North Carolina, I am grateful that she will be receiving more legitimate sex ed class. Thanks to the Healthy Youth Act, she and her peers will be learning about all FDA approved forms of contraception, sexual assault and risk reduction, and STD prevention. Though they still push abstinence, all materials used in class must be medically accurate. I am confident that she and her peers will be in a much better position to make decisions about their sexual health than myself and my peers were after our sex ed horror show.

One thing that the Reproductive Justice Summit reminded me is that just because someone is involved with or interested in certain issues doesn’t mean that they are familiar with every related term or concept, and that that is perfectly okay! A lot of my schoolwork, activism, and personal life are spent talking and thinking critically about things like rape culture and institutionalized racism. I surround myself with other people who are so well versed on such topics, that sometimes I forget that they are not “common knowledge”. At twenty-two years old, I was on the older end of Summit participants, as the Summit was open to sixteen to twenty-four year olds, so part of the knowledge gap can be attributed simply to age and the fact that I have had more time to learn and attend events like this, but it still surprised me to talk to participants who told me that this was the first time they had ever heard the term “intersectionality” and learned what it was!

What a privilege it was to see this group of enthusiastic young activists learning more about the things they care about. Oftentimes, in advocacy work, explaining and teaching the same “basic concepts” to people can be tiring, or frustrating, because you yourself are so familiar with them— everyone should already know about these things, right? Everyone starts out with a blank slate when they begin learning about something new; even the most diehard activists started out knowing nothing about their cause! I forgot how exciting it was to be in their shoes, and to learn about a brand new concept that blows their mind! Learning is something you never stop doing your entire life, and we are so lucky to be able to share our knowledge with each other at events such as these!

So what’s next? Moving forward from the RJ Summit, we need to create a leadership program for young advocates to keep them involved with the organizations that fight for reproductive justice, keep them in contact with each other so that they can work on projects together, and give them access to mentors to guide them into turning their passion into a career. Another option is gathering a team of young people together once a month to continue their education about reproductive justice, and to create sustainable programs to promote reproductive justice together, collaboratively. This is a vital tool to keep young people engaged, excited, and feeling as though they are making a difference—because they already have! We need to invest in these folks now, in order to develop these young leaders into change makers for our state in the long run.

 

Engaging young voters

Engaging Young Voters

by 

Young people can be a difficult audience to reach. NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Foundation tackled this challenge by partnering with other nonprofits to sponsor a day-long Reproductive Justice Summit targeting youth ages 16-24 for a series of advocacy skill sessions. SCSJ voting rights organizing intern Xan McKnight let a session entitled “Navigating North Carolina Voting Laws,” where she spoke to young voters at a session co-taught by Trenten McNeill and Alyssa Davis of Democracy North Carolina.

Engaging young voters
Xan’s presentation focused on ways that North Carolina’s draconian new voting laws suppress the vote of youth, the elderly, women, communities of color, and other vulnerable populations. Through audience participation, a list of voter impediments was created, followed by a list of existing and proposed solutions. Trenten and Alyssa focused on the nuts and bolts of the new voter suppression law. The final segment was a collaborative discussion of best practices in nonpartisan community organizing to help young people become engaged in elections, help coordinate voter awareness on college campuses, and assist people without photo ID in obtaining free state-issued identification before the new voter ID law goes into effect in 2016.

Speakers from SisterSong, Advocates for Youth, Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), NARAL Pro-Choice NC Foundation, Equality NC, and Third Space Studio facilitated the summit and over 100 young leaders ages 16-24 came together to participate. They discusses how to create social change in their communities, especially pertaining to issues of Reproductive Justice, which is the intersection of reproductive rights and social justice. Sessions included discussions about identity, youth activism, the impact of personal stories, health care, how to actively listen and open a dialogue with more difficult/resistant audiences, and how to create a plan for the future of reproductive justice in North Carolina. SCSJ supports Reproductive Justice issues and recognizes the important intersectionality between reproductive justice issues and other social justice issues.