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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Senate Budget to Increase Funding for so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2014

CONTACT: Suzanne Buckley, 919-972-eight486

Raleigh, NC — Months after launching their summer “sneak attack” on women’s reproductive rights, the Senate leadership is poised to pass a budget that would funnel an additional $50,000 to anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers.” The Senate budget carves out $300,000 from the Maternal & Child Health Block Grant to fund the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, an explicitly anti-choice organization that sustains more than half of North Carolina’s so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).  CPCs frequently manipulate and deceive women, often using propaganda to dissuade women from considering comprehensive birth-control options or legal abortion.

“Senator Berger’s priorities couldn’t be more out of touch.  Instead of increasing access to health care by expanding Medicaid and creating jobs for working families, Berger and the extreme majority are funneling 300,000 taxpayer dollars to groups that block women from making fully informed decisions about their own reproductive health,” said Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. “Regardless of how a person feels about legal abortion, we call all can agree that no one should ever be misled when seeking medical care and information,” she said.

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 2.57.07 PM

Background:
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are facilities that often pose as comprehensive health-care centers, but use manipulation and medically inaccurate information to block women from considering abortion—or even birth control—as an option.  NARAL Pro-Choice NC Foundation’s investigation of CPCs in North Carolina in 2011 investigation revealed that of the 60 member organizations of Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship:
  • 94 percent had no medical professionals on their staff.
  • 46 percent promoted abstinence over contraception as the preferred method of prevention
  • 26 percent engaged in deceptive advertising in phonebooks, websites, and college publications.
  • More than half claimed that abortion usually results in so-called “post-abortion stress.”

NARAL Pro-Choice NC will continue to advocate for policies that promote comprehensive, unbiased and non-directive reproductive-health information and work to end the deceptive tactics of CPCs who attempt to block women from making fully informed choices about their reproductive options. 

Suffering Under Liberty and the Reproductive Health Policies of North Carolina

Guest post by Brittney Cobb, Charlotte Dominguez, and Andi DeRoin.  The authors are first-year social work graduate students at North Carolina State University. Along with completing advanced generalist practice education, they are advocating for policy change at the state level and fighting for social justice, equity, and a healthy community.

Reproductive health justice is vast, yet abortion seems to always be at the forefront of America’s consciousness. Over the past year, North Carolina conservatives have launched a new political offensive to limit health care access, legislate reproductive decisions, and disregard the bodily integrity of half the population. Though attacks like this are happening across the country, the recent legislative actions of North Carolina officials strike close to home for us North Carolina State University social work graduate students as we prepare to enter the career field.

Despite protests that SB 353 could further restrict access to abortion, and reminders that such action went against his campaign promises, Governor McCrory signed Senate Bill 353 into law on July 29th 2013.  Under this law, 1) medical providers in North Carolina have the right to refuse to perform abortions (despite already being able to do so), 2) sex-selective abortions are banned (despite having no evidence of prevalence), 3) providers must be present for an entire surgical abortion procedure or the administration of the first pill to induce a chemical abortion (despite no evidence of adverse safety or health effects), 4) the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) must write and enforce new rules for health clinics, which could include new ambulatory care standards and 5) motor vehicle operators are responsible when colliding with motorcycles they do not see.  Yes, you read that correctly– our legislators stuck limiting health care regulations onto a motorcycle-safety bill.

Redundant legislation and foggy rhetoric do not ensure women’s safety, nor do they prevent harsh interpretation from restricting access to abortion. Opponents of the bill fear the new regulations could potentially force health clinics to close their doors if they cannot meet the new standards.  National and State medical groups attest that the guidelines clinics currently run under are sufficient, and enforcing new regulations are unnecessary.  The effects of these new DHHS rules are inciting community uproar and concern.  Negative reaction from the bill comes from what we believe are the true motives of those who pushed for it to be signed into law.

To put it bluntly, those with a uterus will suffer under SB 353, but communities which rely on clinics for comprehensive health care will suffer the most. If clinics are forced to close under the new DHHS rules, many marginalized populations (which already have limited access to health care) will become even more pushed aside–by NC legislators. Without availability to those clinics, marginalized women will lose access to reproductive health care which could result in increased unwanted pregnancy and no safe access to abortions. Their reproductive livelihoods are being threatened by policies put in place that limit their access to these clinics.

It seems that the main moral value driving this policy is the right to life, while a woman’s right to bodily autonomy drives opposition.  The heart of the reproductive health debate seems to involve where priority is placed: on the unborn, or on the pregnant female.  Senate Bill 353 does not deny the right to abortion, but it infers a proposition to end them. For those who support a woman’s right to have complete control of her reproductive health, arguments such as these do not overshadow the existing life of a mother.

Abortion and reproductive health care providers, as well as individual advocates across the state, have made their voices heard both during and after the consideration and passage of SB 353. Though there is inspiration from past movements related to such ingrained and divided social justice issues, nothing seems to adequately prepare us for today’s fight.  The only seemingly viable option is to attempt to network with other states; together we can comprehensively and independently lobby lawmakers.  As reproductive rights are dismantled, we can harness the resulting disgust and outrage, empower all individuals to stand up for personal liberty and bodily integrity, and influence our state, our region, and our country.

So You Want An Abortion In Chapel Hill

The following guest post by Alice Wilder is cross-posted with permission from the author.  The original post appeared on ThrillCityNC.com.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers — not known for their subtlety.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers — not known for their subtlety.

If you’re looking to access abortion care in North Carolina, there will be many people hoping to get in your way.

Yes, there are the folks in the North Carolina General Assembly, passing bills like SB 353. If the Department of Health and Human Services keeps all of the restrictions in SB 353, then there would be just one abortion clinic in the state.

But behind these highly publicized anti-abortion efforts is something a little more covert: Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). Crisis Pregnancy Centers are ideologically based clinics that are dishonest to patients. According to a 2011 study by NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Foundation (NPCNCF), 92 percent do not have medical professionals on staff.

There are reports from abortion rights organizations that condemn CPCs, and I wanted to test their data with a real call to a CPC’s crisis hotline.

I called telling the counselor that I had pregnancy symptoms but hadn’t taken a test. I said that I was leaning towards abortion because I wanted to stay in school. During our 20-minute phone call she took me in detail through parenting and “giving the child the gift of adoption.” She avoided the topic of abortion, and when I brought up she would only add that it wasn’t the only option. Her voice was gentle and calm as she pushed me away from abortion. At times it felt more like a debate than pregnancy counseling. Still, I couldn’t help but think that if I really was pregnant and panicking she’d seem trustworthy.

The bottom line is that there are groups of people coordinating to mislead Carolina students about their pregnancy options. In NARAL’s investigation of North Carolina CPCs investigators found that volunteers told patients that abortion leads to “post-abortion stress” and breast cancer — claims that have no basis in real science. They advertise in the materials that are given to all first-years. They’re targeting panicked college students who deserve nothing but complete honesty.

If you’re in Chapel Hill and thinking about abortion, call the Chapel Hill Health Center at 919.942.7762, or click here. The full NARAL Pro-Choice NC Foundation Investigation can be read online.

And just to make sure you don’t accidentally end up at a CPC, here’s a handy list of local CPC’s as listed by LifeCall, an anti-abortion website. Thanks, LifeCall!

Pregnancy Support Services
Chapel Hill, NC

Pregnancy Support Services
Durham, NC

Gateway
Raleigh, NC

Catholic Social Ministries
Raleigh, NC

Bethany Christian Services
Raleigh, NC

LifeCare Pregnancy Center
Raleigh

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Alice Wilder is a first-year at UNC-Chapel Hill from Charlotte, N.C. She has had her work published by the Spark blog and most recently wrote a thank-you note to Gov. Pat McCrory on Huffpost College.