Cooper signs executive order to help protect reproductive freedom in NC

Photo: Gov. Cooper’s Twitter feed

In case you missed it, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order today that is designed to help preserve and protect access to reproductive healthcare in the state.

The following is from a news release summarizing the event that was distributed this afternoon by the Governor’s office:

Executive Order 263, signed by the Governor today, helps protect North Carolina doctors and nurses and their patients. It directs Cabinet agencies to coordinate to protect reproductive health care services in North Carolina. As a result of this Order, Cabinet agencies cannot require a pregnant state employee to travel to a state where there are not protections for the health of the pregnant person. It directs the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to work with law enforcement to ensure enforcement of a state law that prohibits anyone from blocking access to a health care facility. The Order also provides protections against extradition for those seeking or providing reproductive health care services in North Carolina and prohibits Cabinet agencies from cooperating in investigations initiated by other states into anyone obtaining or providing reproductive health care that is legal North Carolina. This Order will help make sure patients get the care they need in North Carolina.

Cooper signed the order in a joint appearance with an array of advocates for reproductive rights, some of whom pointed out that while North Carolina is already serving as a safe haven for women from anti-abortion states looking for care, the situation here remains tenuous as well.

This from the news release:

According to Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, one third of the patients on their schedule in clinics in North Carolina are from out of state this week. That means there are projected to be at least 10,000 people coming to North Carolina to access reproductive health care services, mostly from states with bans and tighter restrictions. These are just numbers from Planned Parenthood, and do not include estimates from the state’s other trusted providers.

The release also quoted Jenny Black, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic with the following warning as the state looks to this November’s midterm elections:

Our objective is clear: to keep abortion legal in this state, North Carolinians must elect candidates who will protect access to sexual and reproductive health care at the state level and ensure Governor Cooper has the necessary votes to sustain his veto of the all-out attacks on reproductive freedom that are sure to come. The future of abortion access not only for North Carolinians but potentially the entire Southeast region is on the line in 2022, and we thank Governor Cooper for his strong advocacy in support of reproductive freedom today.

Click here to read the executive order.

Veteran journalist: Forcing 10-year-old rape victims to give birth isn’t moral, just or ‘pro-life’

Cartoon by Steve Benson of the Arizona Mirror.

For the first decades after Roe v. Wade was decided, anti-abortion forces made the case that they were the real pro-women movement.

They claimed to love the sinner (the fallen woman) but hated the sin of abortion. They just wanted to save female babies. And some promised to be there with the first box of diapers (the roughly 250 subsequent boxes were always going to be your responsibility).

It was a myth perpetuated in gullible reporting that often swept the movement’s long record of intimidation, violence, arson and murder under the rug. (“Every movement has its extremists,” pundits would tsk, while conveniently ignoring that abortion rights advocates didn’t resort to terrorist tactics to get their point across).

And so, anti-abortion activists had a lot of people fooled when they promised that if the Supreme Court ever overturned abortion, they would never hunt women down and prosecute them for terminating a pregnancy.

But the movement became more emboldened over the years as a powerful force in the Republican Party, proposing a slew of creatively cruel restrictions, like forcing Michigan women to purchase “rape insurance” since standard health policies couldn’t cover abortion, even in the case of sexual assault.

After religious right darling Sarah Palin landed on the 2008 GOP ticket, more Republicans started dispensing with the fiction that they supported exceptions for health, rape, incest and the mother’s life. And we began hearing more and more that throwing doctors in jail was a just outcome (Michigan’s poorly written, 91-year-old abortion ban allows this).

Then Donald Trump came on the scene. Read more

Garner becomes latest NC town to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance

The Garner Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to adopt Wake County’s LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, joining dozens of communities around the state in broadening protections from discrimination.

According to a resolution and inter-local agreement, Wake County will enforce the ordinance within the town The ordinance, which does not apply to religious organizations prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, natural hair or hairstyles, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, pregnancy, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, National Guard or veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, age, and disability.”

Garner is the seventh community within Wake County to adopt its own non-discrimination ordinance or sign on to the county’s. The others are: Apex, Cary, Knightdale, Morrisville, Raleigh and Wendell.

In April leaders from across the county gathered at Campbell University’s School of Law to celebrate the wave of new ordinances.Campbell’s law school has taken the lead in helping resolve complaints filed through the ordinance process.

As Policy Watch has reported, the new ordinances became possible when a state ban on new local protections — including nondiscrimination ordinances for employment and housing — was lifted. The ban was a legacy of the  brutal fight over HB 2 and HB 142, the controversial laws that excluded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from statewide nondiscrimination protections.

This year the LGBTQ people nationwide have seen been targeted by an unprecedented number of hostile bills in state legislatures. Though LGBTQ North Carolinians saw important legal victories last month, they have also been targeted by state legislation casting them as dangerous or mentally ill and been the focus of campaigns and protests fro local GOP officials. The ongoing political campaign was given a spot light late last month when masked right-wing protesters attempted to shut down drag queen story time events at libraries and private businesses.

GOP’s latest constitutional theory puts fair elections at risk

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore

Moore v. Harper case could upend decades of established constitutional law and endanger democracy

The U.S. Supreme Court, as if rushing to settle old grievances, in recent weeks has thrashed about in a virtual frenzy of “originalism” – never mind the consequences for America’s civic well-being.

Our federal Constitution neglects to confer a woman’s explicit right to have an abortion? Then states must be free to impose abortion bans going so far as to require victims of rape and incest to bear the children of their predators – unless they can afford to have the procedure done in jurisdictions where such women (or girls) aren’t doubly victimized.

The Second Amendment guarantees a right (arguably a qualified right) to bear firearms? Well, then, states cannot require gun owners to show why they have a particular need to carry their weapons in public. As if letting the number of firearms circulating on the nation’s streets and in its neighborhoods serves a public purpose in an era of sickening gun violence, the July 4 horror outside of Chicago being just the latest example.

The law intended to fight air pollution doesn’t specifically authorize the federal government to tell power companies to limit their use of greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels? Sorry – those companies can continue to slow-walk the transition to renewable energy sources while temperature-driven climate change degrades the lives of millions.

And then there was this humdinger of a decision by the justices, or enough of them to potentially throw our nation’s democratic system of checks and balances badly out of whack. Wouldn’t you know it: The decision, announced June 30 with no explanation, sprang from strategies cooked up right here on Raleigh’s Jones Street by our Republican-controlled General Assembly.

If there’s any good news, it’s that the high court hasn’t rendered a final ruling. Instead, it has agreed to consider complaints by state House Speaker Tim Moore, state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, and key colleagues that, in essence, they were cheated out of a chance to gerrymander the state’s congressional districts to give Republicans a lopsided advantage.

It takes a thumbs-up from at least four of the nine justices to accept a case for review. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas already have indicated they’re itching to side with the Tar Heel legislators. Justice Brett Kavanaugh has come close, declaring that the issues involved warrant the Supreme Court’s attention.

Of the court’s other two Republican appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. might be the least inclined to join with the previous four, based on a pivotal opinion he wrote in 2019. That would leave Trump-sponsored Amy Coney Barrett in position to cast the swing vote. To which we simply have to say, uh-oh.

Shiny new theory

True to their hyper-literal reading of the Constitution, Alito and his cohorts apparently think the clause putting state legislatures in charge of setting the “times, places, and manner” by which members of Congress are elected forecloses any review by state courts. Legal pundits across the land in past weeks and months have alerted us to the rising appeal in Republican circles of this so-called independent state legislature theory.

If a Supreme Court majority takes the bait, the consequences in North Carolina could play out like this. First, the state Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to reject the legislature’s district map for U.S. House seats, and to substitute one devised under the court’s auspices, would be overturned. Read more

U.S. sues Arizona over proof of citizenship voting law