RALEIGH, NC – March 15, 2023 – North Carolina has had a 37 percent increase in abortions since the United States Supreme Court decided that a woman did not have a constitutional right to abortion eight months ago. This is the largest percentage increase of any state in the nation. Abortion remains legal in North Carolina, where the procedure can be performed up to 20 weeks after fertilization. However, there are many southern states where abortion has been banned or severely restricted. Therefore, the woman’s reproductive health system in N.C. has had much difficulty responding to the increased demand for its services. It may take 2 months to obtain an appointment with an Asheville woman’s health clinic and 1 month in Charlotte. Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive healthcare, estimates since the law was reversed greater than one third of the patients in its North Carolina facilities that desire abortions are from out of state.
The Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, by a 6-3 vote, which had been a nationwide law since 1973. The downstream effects of this historic decision have been handed to each state to determine how to handle women’s reproductive rights. Pre-existent state laws allowed half of the states to roll back abortion rights resulting in it not being available in many areas of the country. Many state legislatures have been struggling with this issue since the court decision. The dissenting S.C. justices wrote that this decision means that “from the moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”
The preexistent state laws fall into the categories of decades-old abortion bans, new “trigger bans” in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s action, and new laws that can create a dispute between the state legislature and the courts to determine a path forward. A significant downstream issue is the proliferation of people from states with abortion bans seeking woman’s reproductive health care in states that protect abortion rights. Some state legislatures are even trying to prevent health care professionals from providing medical care in states where abortion is legal. In contrast, states where abortion is legal are preparing to expand health care access and legalize protection for health care providers from out-of-state litigation. Abortion care includes dispensing abortion pills in addition to surgical abortion procedures. From 2020 data, there were more medically-induced abortions in North Carolina than abortions via surgical procedures.
A recent Meredith College poll of registered North Carolina voters showed that 57 percent of the responders are in favor of preserving the current abortion law or increasing it beyond the 20-week limit. Jenny Black, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, which includes North Carolina and Buncombe County, says “We’re preparing for the hardest fight of our life.”
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Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, firstname.lastname@example.org