Commentary

Pro-choice supporters energized despite divided court on abortion case

On the blistery cold morning of March 2, hundreds gathered at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in advance of oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the most significant reproductive rights case in recent history. The crowd sprawled out across the sidewalk and into the street. A man held a baby in one arm and a “Protect Abortion Access” sign in the other. Others held homemade signs, which read “Not Going Back.” An anti-choice crowd had also gathered, all clad in blue, but their presence was drowned out by the sea of purple pro-choice supporters.

IMG_5243

Inside the building, the walls vibrated with the sound of the crowd outside chanting “Stop the Sham!” The mood inside the courtroom was more somber as attendees contemplated the gravity of what was at stake in this case. The Justices would not only be determining the constitutionality of HB2, a law passed in Texas that requires clinics to convert into ambulatory care centers, and requires doctors who provide abortion care to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, but also whether states can continue to put barriers in place to prevent women from exercising their constitutional right to an abortion. As U.S. Solicitor General Verilli stated at the end of his oral arguments, if the court finds that HB2 should be upheld, what they will really be saying is “that this right exists only in theory and not in fact, going forward.”

At exactly 10am, the Justices entered the courtroom armed with questions for both sides. The seat formerly occupied by Justice Scalia sat noticeably empty and covered in black cloth. Within minutes, it was clear that this was going to be a battle for Justice Kennedy’s vote. Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayer and Kagan pulled no punches in calling out the unfairness in applying certain rules to abortions that aren’t applied to more dangerous procedures like liposuctions and colonoscopies. Justice Breyer further pointed out the hypocrisy in the State’s argument by asking if the State was truly passing these abortion restrictions for health reasons, weren’t they worried that the result of the restrictions was to shut down clinics and cause later-term and more self-induced abortions? Breyer continued, “[s]o if the concern is this tiny risk of dying through complication in a clinic, is this a remedy that will in fact achieve the legislature’s health-saving purpose?”

The arguments in favor of Whole Woman’s Health seemed persuasive at the time but it will be a few months before the Justices release their decision. Walking back down the steps of the Supreme Court and seeing the even larger and more energized crowd of supporters rallying in the cold weather, one thing was clear — no matter what the Justices decide, the right to abortion will not be allowed to be easily taken away.

Chavi Koneru is Policy Analyst for NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina

Commentary

Pro-choice advocates heading to D.C. next week — spaces available

From the good folks at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina:

NARAL PRO-CHOICE NC IS HEADING TO THE SUPREME COURT!

Join NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina as we travel to the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C., for the Rally to Protect Abortion Access on March 2nd! March 2nd marks the beginning of the oral arguments for the most important abortion access case in the past 25 years, Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, which will determine whether abortion providers can stay open across Texas and possibly across the entire United States. This will be a historic and exciting day, and we’d love to have you join us!

The rally at the Supreme Court starts at 8 AM, so we’re leaving bright and early from the Triangle at 3 AM on March 2nd. The rally goes until 12 PM, and we will return in the late afternoon/early evening. Location details will be provided once you RSVP.

Space on our bus is EXTREMELY limited, so reserve your seat NOW by filling out this form! By reserving your seat, you’ll get a free ride to experience this historic event, a free NARAL t-shirt, AND great company. What more could you ask for? We can’t wait to see you on March 2nd!

RESERVE YOUR SEAT ON THE BUS TODAY!

Commentary

Women’s advocates release new polling numbers; will deliver petitions to Tillis this afternoon

Women’s advocates at NARAL Pro-Choice NC, N.C. Women United, NC NOW and Progress NC will be delivering petitions to Senator Thom Tillis’ office in Raleigh this afternoon. This is from the new release (which also includes a link to new and encouraging polling numbers — see after the page break):

Thousands Demand Senators Tillis and Burr Protect Sex Trafficking Survivors Now, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and Local Leaders to Deliver Petitions

Sen. Tillis’ Office in Raleigh, NC to be Inundated with Petitions on Wednesday at 2:00PM

On Wednesday April 8, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice America, Progress NC Action, NC NOW (National Organization for Women), and NC Women United, will deliver thousands of petitions to the district office of Senator Tillis telling him to stop playing politics and pass a clean Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act for the health and safety of exploited women and children.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue had this to say:

“Instead of pushing for the immediate care that survivors of sex trafficking need, Senators Tillis and Burr are treating them like political pawns by stalling this important bill to advance their anti-choice agenda. Given that thousands of American women and children are coerced into performing commercial sex acts for the financial gain of criminals every year, the with banning abortion regardless of individual circumstances is incredibly dangerous. We will accept nothing less than unfettered access to a full range of reproductive health care services for trafficking survivors from our representatives in Congress.”

WHAT: Petition delivery calling for a clean Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
WHO: NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and local leaders
WHEN: April 8, 2:00PM
WHERE: 310 New Bern Avenue Raleigh, NC 27601

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Executive Director, Shoshannah Sayers had this to say: Read more

Commentary

New legislation would all but end access to safe, legal abortions in North Carolina

Abortion protestWomen’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies took another blow yesterday and this time the strike was aimed at doctors too.

While proponents of women’s rights were still reeling from the anti-abortion Senate bill filed last week, HB 465 was introduced, yesterday, containing the most restrictive proposed abortion restrictions North Carolina has seen in a long time.

As is typical with anti-abortion bills, the new laws 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.

According to NARAL Pro-Choice NC:

[M]andatory 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.”

The real dagger in the bill, however, is how it would dictate doctor’s rights to make decisions based on his or her own ethics and education. Almost every provision of the bill would narrow the pool of doctors available to perform abortions, until North Carolina is left with zero doctors able to perform safe abortions—which is obviously the intent of the bill’s sponsors.

Read more

Commentary

Advocates for women’s health to rally Friday in support of reasonable abortion provider regs

Reproductive rightsThe state Department of Health and Human Services will be holding a hearing this Friday morning on new proposed abortion provider regulations. As explained in this recent post by the good people at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, there is actually cause for optimism that the rules will not unduly burden women’s health. That said, anti-choice advocates are banging the drum to alter the proposed regs in a negative way and, as a result, advocates for women’s health will gather Friday on site in support of keeping the new regulations safe and sane.

This is from an alert sent out by the good people at Progress NC:

December 19: Put Women’s Health First!

The NC Department of Health and Human Services has proposed new regulations on abortion providers. The Department has included the input of women’s healthcare providers throughout the rulemaking process, and we need to stay vigilant and make sure that any new regulations put women’s health FIRST.

That’s why Planned Parenthood in NC, NARAL Pro-Choice NC, ACLU-NC, NC Women United, NC NOW, NC Women Matter and Progress NC need you to join us on Friday, December 19 at Dorothea Dix Campus, Brown Building, Room 104, 801 Biggs Drive, Raleigh, NC.

Click here for more information.