UNCW Student Reflects: After 42 Years, is Roe a Reality?

By Ana Eusse, MSW Student and NARAL Pro-Choice NC Campus Representative at UNCW 

As we celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, those of us who support choice must ask if choice is a possibility if there isn’t an ability to access reproductive care. When healthcare is seen as a commodity, as opposed to a human right, the lack of access to full reproductive health access cannot be ignored, and it is imperative that we take that into account when advocating for choice.

This is particularly true when advocating for choice in poor communities and communities of color. The lack of access to women of color and poor women results in truly not having a true choice. Women of color, immigrant women (both citizen and non-citizen), and poor women have higher rates of unplanned pregnancies, yet lack the resources to have an abortion. Many of these women never had access to the tools to stop them from getting pregnant.

Many think Roe has guaranteed access to abortion. It has and does not. The government’s control over poor women’s choice through legislation that denies using federal funds for abortions, like the Hyde Amendment, creates the lack of access for women who desperately need access to abortion. Subsequent legislation, such as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, has allowed federal and state governments to erect further roadblocks impeding choice and preventing access for far too many people.

As a woman of color and a Health Care Assistant for Planned Parenthood, I am a witness to the struggles of women of all backgrounds who seek access to abortion care. These struggles include finding support in complete outsiders because her family and own community would never accept her making her own decisions; finding financial support to move forward with the procedure; and most importantly, removing the stigma associated when choosing to have an abortion. Unfortunately, the realities for women who seek to have an abortion are the institutional barriers such as government, religion, and gender that actively seek to remove not only access but also the fundamental choice itself. In preventing access, the government is completely overriding the Roe v. Wade decision and denying women the right to have bodily autonomy. 11Ana Eusse

Women really only have a choice when that choice is mirrored by access. Unfortunately, for many women the reality of having a choice is only the first step in deciding whether we can have an abortion. Once a choice is made, thanks to the Casey decision, the next step consists of conducting research to ensure you have the money for travel (including gas and lodging), as the closest clinic could be hundreds of miles away, possible childcare, time away from work, and then of course paying for the actual procedure which begins as high as $400. For the average poor woman, finding out whether she will have enough for food or gas everyday is a constant struggle, and when it comes to her own body, she can be discouraged from even recognizing what she CHOOSES because, well, there is just not access.

Concerned about deceptive advertising on campus that misleads students into believing CPCs offer comprehensive reproductive care? Please sign here: bit.ly/StopCPCAds

Let’s Make Roe a Reality for All

By Suzanne Buckley

Today is the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the Court established that the constitutional right to privacy encompasses the right to choose whether to end a pregnancy. Each year around the anniversary of the Roe, we reflect on how the decision dramatically bolstered women’s health and dignity. But too often we overlook the reality that the legal “right” to abortion care is meaningless if it’s been restricted to the point that it’s out of reach.

At NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, we believe that wherever we live, however much we make, each of us must be able to make our own decisions about pregnancy and parenting. When we support and respect that reproductive health decisions are ours to make, we are all stronger. Instead of restricting reproductive health care – including abortion care – we need solutions to improve all aspects of our health. But across the country and closer to home, politicians are creating new barriers that often make abortion services unaffordable or unavailable.

Politicians in our state have used bans on abortion coverage, waiting periods, medically inaccurate scripts, and medically unnecessary laws to make abortion harder to access, and more expensive. The reality is that these regulations do nothing to make abortion safer or help a woman with her decision—they only serve to make accessing abortion care and other basic reproductive health care services more costly and difficult for the most vulnerable in our state.

For too many women and families in our state, Roe simply is not a reality.

Roe is not a reality for many working families and those struggling to make ends meet. In 2013, Governor McCrory signed into law a bill banning state and municipal governments from offering abortion care coverage to their employees, denying comprehensive reproductive health care coverage to over 367,000 women and families. The governor also signed into law a bill banning abortion coverage in health plans offered through the insurance exchanges. Added to these new laws are those already on the books, eliminating the state abortion fund and only allowing state funding for abortion care in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment.

Roe is not a reality for the fifty-seven percent of North Carolinians who live in the 90% of counties in our state with no abortion care provider. Nor is Roe a reality for the thousands of rural women who live in the Western part of our state, who now have to cross state lines or travel hundreds of miles to the nearest abortion clinic. For too many North Carolinians, their personal reproductive health care decisions are limited by their ability to travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, make multiple visits to a doctor, and find child care.

We must make Roe a reality for all. It’s time to secure reproductive justice for all and to stop the terrible inequities that restrict reproductive health options, including abortion care. Instead of limiting reproductive health care options, we need solutions that improve health and improve a woman’s ability to make the best reproductive health decisions for her circumstances, such as lifting bans on abortion coverage for low-income women and expanding access to comprehensive reproductive health care.

There is no doubt we will continue to face challenges this year just to hold the line in the state policy debate when it comes to reproductive health, rights and justice. But we believe there has also never been a better time to change the conversation about abortion, access to health care, paid family leave, and other reproductive justice issues. Instead of allowing the conversation to be dragged to the right by our anti-choice legislature, we must start a new conversation to once again spark imaginations about building strong communities through policies that empower individuals to make the health decisions best for them. Indeed, this conversation already has started in crowds at Moral Monday rallies, on campuses across the state, and among the young leaders who gathered at NARAL Pro-Choice NC, El Pueblo, YES! and SisterSong’s Reproductive Justice Youth Summit last summer.

The bottom line: If the guarantee of Roe v. Wade is to ever have real meaning for all the women of North Carolina, we must continue to lift our voices and speak out in support of our vision for reproductive health, rights and justice in our state.

Suzanne Buckley is the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice NC. Follow her on Twitter: @Hsbuckles

NCSU Senior Reflects: After 42 Years, is Roe a Reality?

By Lela Johnston, NARAL Pro-Choice NC Intern and NC State University Senior 

This week we recognize the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s right to reproductive choice. Reproductive decisions extend far beyond the doctor’s office. A woman’s right to control her reproductive health is the most basic and critical element of her autonomy. Without this fundamental human right, women’s voices are silenced, their independence is threatened, and ultimately, political, economic, and social gender equality is still just a distant possibility. Forty-two years ago the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. legally recognized my right to control my own body. And while I’m grateful that I have grown up in a post-Roe society, its legal precedent has still yet to be fully transformed into a reality.

Roe’s legal acknowledgement of a woman’s right to choose has not ensured equal access to reproductive healthcare. Since Roe prevents our General Assembly from entirely outlawing abortion, the legislature has instead passed restrictive legislation. These restrictions include requiring women seeking abortion care to undergo distressing mandatory ultrasounds and medically unnecessary laws like dictating the width of a clinic’s door frames. Even here on NC State’s campus, a lack of equal and accurate medical information serves as yet another barrier to a woman’s right to make informed healthcare decisions. Our Women’s Health Center offers information on Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) but limited information on abortion and adoption care. These so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”, masquerading as comprehensive health clinics, often manipulate pregnant women by providing biased and medically inaccurate information on abortion and birth control. Our own Women’s Health Center has pamphlets for CPCs in its waiting room but little information on other reproductive health options.Lela

As a student, as a woman, and as a human being, I deserve better. I deserve to attend a public university that provides comprehensive and factual healthcare information. I deserve to attend a university that respects my reproductive autonomy and my dignity. I deserve to live in a state that allows me to make my own healthcare choices, free from coercion and intrusive regulation. I deserve to attend a university in a state that upholds and protects my right to make the safest and most informed decisions about my own body. Forty-two years after Roe legally established this right, the fight for reproductive justice for all women is not over.

 

If you are concerned about deceptive advertising on campus that misleads students into believing CPCs offer comprehensive reproductive health care please sign NARAL NC’s petition: bit.ly/StopCPCAds

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.