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Planned Parenthood CEO makes stop in Triangle, encourages women to vote in upcoming election

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards meets with voters Tuesday at the Democratic field office in Cary. Photo by Melissa Boughton

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards meets with voters Tuesday in Cary. Photo by Melissa Boughton

Women’s rights are very much on the ballot this November, and now more than ever, they should exercise their right to vote, according to Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards.

Richards was in the Triangle as part of an effort to raise awareness of reproductive rights and other women’s issues in the run-up to the election.

She talked about women’s issues she thinks are important, including paid family leave, affordable child care, access to healthcare and raising the minimum wage, an issue that disproportionately impacts women.

Richards also said cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, as North Carolina has tried to do in the past, affects more than a woman’s access to abortion – it cuts off her access to cancer screenings, family planning and well-woman exams.

Richards’ visit comes during a period in which a number of North Carolina laws affecting reproductive rights and health have been in the limelight. These include:

  • The Women’s and Children’s Protection Act of 2015 , which requires women seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours before the procedure is performed. The same law also requires doctors to record and submit detailed information about the unborn child to the Department of Health and Human Services – a step that is not required for other types of reproductive procedures.
  • Another bill that was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory last October prevents women from having the choice to voluntarily donate fetal tissue after an abortion, even if it’s for research purposes.
  • An anti-sex education bill passed in 2013, in which middle school teachers are required to inform students (erroneously according to many experts) that abortion is a risk factor for pre-term delivery later in life.
  • The Women’s Right to Know Act, which was passed in 2011 over a veto by then-Gov. Beverly Perdue, which required doctors to perform an ultrasound on a woman with or without her consent at least four hours before an abortion to show her the images and describe them. A U.S. District Court Judge overturned the law in 2014, which the Fourth Circuit agreed and the U.S. Supreme Court later refused to take up, leaving the lower court ruling in place.

A review of state voter registration statistics reveals that Richards may have good reason for bringing her message to North Carolina. According to the most recent data, women make up 53.2% of the state’s 6.8 million registered voters.

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