The Pulse

Reproductive rights advocates tell legislators to reject more abortion restrictions

By: - February 21, 2023 10:15 pm
Reproductive rights news conference at the NC Legislative Building

Janice Robinson recalled a scary time when she was a pregnant 15-year-old in South Carolina, almost 50 years ago.

Her mother took her to have an abortion. Her mother took her not to a medical doctor, but someone unlicensed and working in secret. Robinson said she didn’t have a say in any of it.

“I experienced one of those back-alley abortions in my small hometown of Anderson, South Carolina,” she said. She called it “a nightmare.”

Robinson, who now lives in Charlotte, spoke at a news conference organized by reproductive rights advocates Tuesday as Republicans in the legislature consider more abortion restrictions.

Those who gathered at the Legislative Building to speak up for abortion rights planned to visit all 170 legislative offices, said Jillian Riley, state director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.

“We really believe that everyone needs to hear from advocates from across the state,” she said. They’re asking members of both political parties to “keep the status quo and not pass any more restrictions on abortion access this year.”

The state has a 20-week ban on abortions, except in cases of medical emergency. Republican legislative leaders have guaranteed further limits.

Democrats filed a bill last month that would put abortion rights as defined by Roe vs. Wade into state law. That bill is unlikely to get a hearing. State Rep. Julie von Haefen of Wake County said after the news conference Tuesday that a group of Democrats plan to file a bill next week that would lift state constraints such as the required state-scripted counseling, the 72-hour waiting period, and the prohibition on telehealth for medication abortions.

Vocal opposition to additional abortion restrictions is becoming more persistent. Duke University doctors last week held a video news conference where they talked about abortion restrictions in other states endangering people’s health.

Midwifery student Mariama Morray said Tuesday that the state needs to keep the health care providers it has and attract more.

Providers “want to practice in states where abortion care is legal and safe,” she said.

Doctors are turning down jobs in states with abortion bans, the Washington Post reported. Other doctors are leaving states with strict abortion limits, The Guardian reported.

Robinson and other reproductive rights advocates said people should make health care decisions without government interference.

“All abortion bans and other restrictions on reproductive health care fall hardest on people who already face discriminatory obstacles to health care – particularly Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, young people, undocumented people, LGBTQ people, and those having difficulty making ends meet,” she said.

Robinson is state director of an organization called Red Wine & Blue, which seeks to engage suburban women in politics.

After the news conference, Robinson recalled learning that she was pregnant those years ago from an older sister who figured it out. Her sister also encouraged her to drink turpentine to try to induce a miscarriage.

Robinson worries that more abortion restrictions will push others to desperate acts.

Women and girls across the country “are once again being put at risk of having to resort to unsafe abortions because government officials have decided they should interfere with a private health care decision,” she said.

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Lynn Bonner
Lynn Bonner

Investigative Reporter Lynn Bonner covers the state legislature and politics, as well as elections, the state budget, public and mental health, safety net programs and issues of racial equality.