Marching with NARAL NC at HKonJ

On Saturday, Feb. 9, I had a once in a lifetime experience when I was fortunate enough to walk in the Historic Thousands on Jones Street March (HKonJ) in downtown Raleigh. I was not sure what to expect when I first got there. However, I was quickly excited as the chanting and cheering began about issues I am very passionate about. It is a unique experience to be surrounded by people who are all standing together believing in equality and justice for all. I was not worried about holding a sign that said “Stop the War on Women” because everyone there believed in the same thing. At one point an older woman behind me grabbed my elbow and said in 1973 she was fighting for the same thing we at NARAL are still fighting for today. It is a shame that 40 years later we are still marching to guarantee rights that should already be established and maintained.

HK on J was one of the first times since moving to North Carolina that I felt supported and exhilarated. I felt part of something bigger than myself and that I was standing for what I believe in. It was interesting to see people of all colors, walks of life, and beliefs stand together to support justice which included women’s reproductive rights. After this experience, I am inspired to continue to make a change and get more students involved. I think the only thing that was missing from the march was more students. We need to be more involved in being the change and demanding it, rather than sitting by and complaining about things we wish were different.

-Cassi, CaNCSUmpus Representative at NCSU

The Geography of Abortion Access

by Honora Gandhi

In honor of Roe v. Wade’s anniversary, folks at The Daily Beast compiled an interactive map of abortion access in the United States. It’s frightening, informative, and beautifully done. Using information from the remaining 724 abortion clinics in our country, the map highlights the distance women across the US must travel to visit one, the legal restrictions of the nearest clinic, counseling/wait times, ultrasound provisions, and insurance restrictions.

Hover over different areas on the map to see what laws are in effect that regulate abortion. You can also overlay census data that shows the population of reproductive-age women (15-44) across the country. Even more unsettling are the labeled “Points of Interest” – Wichita, KS, which has been without an abortion provider since the 2009 murder of one, Dr. George Tiller, and is now 300 miles from the closest; the last clinic standing in Mississippi, and the Panhandle-Dakota Divide (the most visible trend on the map). You can also enter a zip code or address to see local restrictions and regulations.

Check it out:

Regions with the fewest abortion providers also have the most abortion restrictions.  40 years after Roe v. Wade, we have plenty to celebrate – but our progress is being steadily eroded by unjust legislation, and, as this map illustrates with painful clarity, much of the country still struggles to access a legally protected right.

Happy Anniversary!

by Honora Gandhi

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to make safe, legal abortion available to women in our country. In Roe v. Wade, it was determined that abortion qualified as a private matter between a woman and her physician.

Despite the fact that with every federal and legislative session, new bills to restrict abortion rights are introduced, the majority (63%) of Americans still hold that abortion is a basic human right. …Hallelujah for that small, consistent majority. Without it, we could be sent back to a time more horrifying than most of us can imagine.

There are a lot of people, many of whom with political power, who claim to want Roe v. Wade reversed. I have to believe none of them knows what that means. It wouldn’t save any babies. It would kill women.

NARAL published a study recently that showed Millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000) are largely unaware of Roe v. Wade, its subject matter or importance. Not knowing what the case was about is inexcusable – it’s a landmark in US history (seriously, get it together). But I can say that as a Millennial, none of us has a clue how horrific, frightening and gruesome things were before Roe v. Wade.

Before Roe, women dying from blood poisoning and other complications of illegal abortion was commonplace. There is a saying, ‘Nothing can stand between a woman and a wanted or unwanted pregnancy.’ If a woman wants to get pregnant, she will; if a woman wants to terminate her pregnancy, she will. If the latter means killing herself in the process, she still will. Estimates of how many women in the US died from illegal abortion before Roe v. Wade (1973) range from 5,000 to 10,000 per year. 70,000 to 100,000 women around the world still die annually from illegal abortion – mostly in countries with restrictive abortion laws. Why a significant portion of the US would like to become one of those countries is beyond me.

Decriminalizing abortion was one of the most significant steps we’ve ever taken toward lightening the consequences of socioeconomic disparity. Abortion has always been and will always be available to wealthy women. Before it was legal here, wealthy Americans had the option of traveling to England for it – which they did, in droves. So while poor women underwent “back alley abortions” and “kitchen abortions,” both of which tended to end in sepsis and death, wealthy women had safe access to a low-risk medical procedure. The same was true when abortion was only legal in some states – women who could afford to make the trip across state lines got care, while women who couldn’t were in trouble.

So, thanks again, Roe – our grip on your victory might be increasingly tenuous, but you paved the way for a world in which gender equality isn’t completely inconceivable; a world in which women can assert control over their own futures without risking their lives and health; a world in which access to basic healthcare extends (however inadequately) across economic lines. Four decades ago, history was made in our favor. Be proud, celebrate, and fight to uphold the 1973 ruling that shaped our lives for the better.


It begins!

Republican House Majority Leader Paul Stam has made it clear that attacks on abortion will be front and center in the next legislative session.

At yesterday’s Perinatal Legislative Committee, Stam spearheaded a change to our school health curriculum that has nothing to do with women’s health, and everything to do with stigmatizing abortion. Stam made a proposal that would force schools to teach high schools students about a so-called link between abortion and pre-term deliveries as part of the state healthy living curriculum. Stam’s recommendation failed to address any of the well-established causes of pre-term deliveries and went against the recommendations of trusted physicians and medical experts from the CDC, the
WHO and the American Medical Association, which recognize no correlation between abortion and pre-term deliveries.

No matter what Rep. Stam and the anti-choice majority try to pull, pro-choice North Carolina is watching and we will work tirelessly to ensure our lawmakers are held accountable for their extreme agenda.

Elections Matter: Vote.

Over the past two years we have witnessed more than 1,500 legislative attacks on women and health care, in all 50 states and at every level of government.

In North Carolina, we have seen attempts to deny women access to cervical cancer screening and birth control by voting to defund Planned Parenthood.  We have witnessed our elected officials imposing regulations on doctors and medical providers that have absolutely nothing to do with protecting women’s health and everything to do with shutting abortion providers down.  We have even seen the enactment of mandatory ultrasounds, which force a woman to succumb to a government-mandated procedure.  We have seen the enactment of laws that use the state to funnel money to “crisis pregnancy centers,” facilities that prioritize ideology above women’s well-being and post-pone their access to legitimate health-care providers with potentially harmful results. Laws like these threaten women’s health as well as their liberty.

But there is something you can do: Vote.

Without health centers like Planned Parenthood, thousands of women in North Carolina will lose access to the low-cost health services they rely on for a wide-range of services from cancer screenings to prenatal care. This will lead to higher rates of unintended pregnancies, increased rates of sexually transmitted diseases, and — without adequate preventive care — increased emergency room visits and higher health care premiums. Mandatory ultrasounds and waiting periods not only undermine a woman’s individual liberty but they also have economic effects: A woman forced to drive two or three times longer to a health clinic will spend more money on gas (if she even has transportation), pay more in child care, take more time off from work, and have less to contribute to her local economy.

Elections matter. Those we elect on November 6 will have an unprecedented amount of control over women’s economic future, our access to health care and freedom to make personal, private decisions.  Make your voice heard.