“If Pat McCrory believes in a healthy North Carolina, he should veto HB 465!”

“Keep Your Promise, McCrory” tour stop in Charlotte: Speech by Reia Chapman, North Carolina Organizer for SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and an Advisory Council Member of Social Workers for Reproductive Justice

Good Afternoon. My name is Reia Chapman, and I am here on behalf of Women Voting Our Values and as a NC resident in opposition to House Bill 465.

SisterSong is a Southern based, national membership organization and our purpose is to build an effective network of individuals and organizations to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the lives of marginalized communities. SisterSong’s mission is to strengthen and amplify the collective voices of Indigenous women and women of color to achieve reproductive justice (RJ) by eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights.

Reproductive Justice is defined as the right to have children, not have children, to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments, and the right to bodily autonomy — and is based on an individual’s human right to make personal decisions about their life. The obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one’s decisions is imperative for women of color.

As a RJ activist, I can say with certainty that abortions – like contraception and pre & post natal care – are a part of women’s overall reproductive healthcare and they should remain legal, accessible, affordable and safe. And as community organizer here in NC, I can say with certainty that abortion restrictions like state-mandated waiting periods are the wrong priority for my community.

Women of color are already limited with access to healthcare services in North Carolina. For example, when Medicaid expansion in NC was denied, over half-a-million North Carolinians remained at risk – especially the citizens in rural North Carolina that face financial and physical barriers to receiving preventative health care and health education as well as treatment for existing health problems.

HB 465 represents the very thing Governor McCrory agreed not to do: INCREASE ABORTION RESTRICTIONS! We charge this as Reproductive Oppression! Reproductive oppression is the control and exploitation of women, girls, and individuals through our bodies, sexuality, labor, and reproduction. Restricting a woman’s right to the full range of reproductive healthcare in essence controls the destiny of entire communities through the bodies of women and individuals.

unnamed-10Forcing women into motherhood has serious implications.   History and research indicate that desperation is dangerous which is why we must fight against any type of legislation that seeks to prohibit our Reproductive Freedom. We cannot forget that before Roe v Wade (1973) made abortion legal in this county women were losing their lives because they were trying to take care of themselves.

Oppressive legislation such as HB 465 further contributes to the marginalization of the most vulnerable communities in NC, and making women wait for 72 hours is dangerous and abusive. Mandatory delays create additional burdens for North Carolina women especially women in rural areas who have to travel many hours outside of their communities to reach a healthcare provider.

This is bigger than abortion. This is about trusting women and their ability to do what is best for themselves because we do not know their story. Therefore, we must eradicate any barriers that impact their reproductive decisions. This is not a singular issue with a single issue solution. Audrey Lorde stated “there is no such thing as a single issue because we don’t live single-issue lives.”

Representative Jacqueline Schaffer said in a statement before the house that “The poorest decisions that we make are the ones we make under pressure and on impulse.” The timetable proposed is medically unnecessary. The implication here is that women lack the capacity to consider their own needs, desires, and options. This is a matter of Reproductive Freedom. Women in NC are not making business transactions with regard to their Reproductive Health. We need to trust women to make reproductive choices for themselves.

Instead of limiting access to healthcare for NC women, We need our legislators focusing on:

  • Improving awareness of existing health care programs, like Medicaid, Medicare, and Health Choice through community outreach programs.
  • Adjusting/simplifying the requirements of current programs, such as those listed above, to allow more/improved coverage for those in need.
  • Ensuring that rural counties receive more healthcare funding and improving healthcare access through increased incentives for doctors to open practices in rural areas and better managed/funded healthcare facilities.
  • Initiating programs for those with no transportation or limited transportation to receive care.
  • Establishing a living wage ordinance to insure that rural citizens have the funds necessary to incorporate preventative healthcare into their lives.
  • Asking citizens what they want or need in terms of healthcare. Encourage community involvement in implementing change in health care access through outreach groups. Get involved.

As I close, I must say as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I am deeply concerned regarding the psychological impact and mental health of women who will be most affected by this measure. This is a critical time in the lives of all women. Daily we make choices around our reproductive health from what we eat, where we live, where we work, to who we’re intimate with and the type of healthcare support we need.IMG_3231

We believe it is essential to utilize the RJ frame as a means to unite women and their communities, be relevant to communities of color, and link to advocates from the nation’s capitol to the grassroots in order to develop proactive strategies to protect and preserve our lives.

We believe that RJ is achieved when all of us have the social, economic, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities.

If Pat McCrory believes in a healthy North Carolina, he should veto HB 465!

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Statement: H.B. 465 in NO Way Helps Women

Shoshannah Sayers, Esq., Interim Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice NC 

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina opposes House Bill 465 because it will not help women. The bill’s 72-hour abortion waiting period regulation is medically unnecessary. We are disappointed that at today’s House Health Committee meeting, only one pro-choice speaker was allowed to be heard. We brought a number of physicians and medical professionals prepared to speak to the problems with this bill and their information was never allowed to reach House Committee members.

H.B. 465 would make it harder for women, who have made a choice about their own body, by making them wait 72 hours, instead of the current 24 hour period, between asking for an abortion and being legally permitted to get one. Mandatory delay laws such as these would endanger women’s health and create additional burdens for North Carolina women, especially women in rural areas who often have to travel for many hours to reach a health-care provider, and for women who do not have the resources to take extra time off work or to pay for child-care. According to a study conducted in Texas, on average, women travel 42 miles to visit their nearest clinic (although some women had to travel up to 400 miles) and incur an average of $146 in costs due to the additional waiting period. These restrictions have a disproportional impact on low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, and young women. Women who want to get abortions, but are denied, are three times more likely to fall into poverty than those who can get an abortion, according to recent studies.

The study also showed that waiting periods do not do anything to sway women’s decisions about terminating a pregnancy, but are simply emotional manipulation tactics to shame women and make them feel guilty about making decisions about their own bodies. One third of the participants in the study said the waiting period negatively effected their well-being.

In the 1992 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casy, Justice John Paul Stevens pointed out that mandatory waiting periods rest “on outmoded or unacceptable assumptions about the decision-making capacity of women.” The message being sent by state legislatures, essentially, is “you must be crazy if you want to obtain an abortion — maybe think about it some more and you’ll come to your senses.”

Suffice it to say that safe medical procedures sought by men, such as vasectomies, are not burdened with such waiting periods.

The bill also increases burdens for the doctors who assist women by performing abortions.

Doctors will have to record detailed information about the “unborn child” including gestational age and ultrasounds with measurements. The bill would even require extensive records from doctors who perform an abortion for the health and safety of the mother. This information would then be submitted to DHHS but only after the doctors have taken the time to remove all identifying information.  The only purpose for these rules seem to be to add in so many requirements that abortions will be too much of a hassle for doctors to perform.

In summary, H.B. 465 in NO way helps North Carolina women and families.

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Shoshannah Sayers, Esq.

Interim Executive Director

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina

(919) 536-8191

Women’s History Month Highlight: Susan Hill

Hannah Osborne, Campus Organizer at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina 

Susan Hill, a Durham native, a social worker, an abortion provider, an advocate, and a resilient and compassionate human being, worked tirelessly for the reproductive freedom ALL women. Weeks after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, Susan worked with others to start and open the doors of the first abortion clinic in Florida. She was a woman of action. In her lifetime, she defended the freedom of thousands of women. At NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, we work to protect and advance the reproductive rights of women and families in our state. Her work serves as daily inspiration for us. Susan left an incredible legacy. It is our goal to make her work a truly living legacy. So, on this final day of Women’s History Month, we honor, celebrate, and remember Susan Hill.

Susan Hill fought to secure the rights of all women. I am grateful for her efforts, and I am here to defend her work. Based on recent events, it is clear that we cannot take human rights for granted. Just last week our state legislature introduced Senate Bill 604, containing new restrictions on abortion providers. Roe V. Wade did more than grant me equality to decide what is best for my body, it secured my freedom. But it did not secure every woman’s freedom. Susan Hill understood that the right to have an abortion does not guarantee the ability to access that right. So, in 1975 Susan established the National Women’s Health Organization, a group of abortion clinics in the most underserved areas of the country. With this work, she laid the legal foundation for access to abortion services around the United States.

Susan Hill 1-thumb-225x324-9092This blog has merely touched on Susan Hill’s work and impact. I encourage you to read more about her legacy. In addition, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina invites you to join us for our 5th Annual Spring into Action: an evening in honor of Susan Hill. Dr. Willie Parker, one of two heroic doctors who travel to Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic to provide abortion care to women across the Deep South, will be this year’s keynote speaker. Like Susan Hill, Dr. Parker is unrelenting in his commitment to helping women and families, even in the face of grave danger.​ We will also present the 2015 Susan Hill Award to Dr. Ward Cates for his work his work as a researcher and tireless champion for access to safe and legal abortion care.

For Women’s History Month, we honor Susan Hill for establishing clinics across the South in the most underserved areas, protecting the freedom of women, and fighting for access. In her work, she encountered countless obstacles and faced personal danger, including death threats and harassment. Yet, she kept working! She kept working for the freedom of all women. Like Susan, we must keep working. Let us honor Susan and her legacy through our work.

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