Editor’s Note: Yesterday, the North Carolina House passed legislation that would ban abortion after 12 weeks on a 71-46 party line vote. The measure is expected to pass the N.C. Senate today. Gov. Roy Cooper has promised to veto the measure, but Republican leadership is confident they have the votes to override the veto.
Calla Hales, writing below, is executive director of A Preferred Women’s Health Center, with clinics in Raleigh and Charlotte.
367 days ago, I sat on a plane coming back from a reproductive health conference in Florida.
I left the conference feeling invigorated. I’d spent 3 days listening to my colleagues talk about advances in research, new legal strategies to protect healthcare access, and how to sustain ourselves in our field. When I got off the plane, I turned my phone on to find 107 emails, 64 texts, 11 voicemails, a crashed Twitter app.
It was May 2nd. The Dobbs decision had leaked.
Two days ago, exactly one year later, I sat in another airport, coming back from another reproductive health conference in a different state, and searched desperately for news alerts about our state’s Republican legislators, and the anti-abortion bill that both House and Senate members have been working on behind closed doors for months.
At that moment, my phone was remarkably silent. What can you say when you’ve already been fighting and screaming into the void for years?
This time, my phone didn’t crash, but the Republican abortion ban was announced nonetheless. The situation is dire, and desperate for folks across North Carolina.
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It’s a monster bill. A gestational limit of 12 weeks. Requirement for in-person 72-hour counseling, and multiple in-person visits to complete a procedure. Increased and unnecessary requirements for physical buildings and state reporting. The bill may be called “The Care for Women, Children, and Families Act,” but these TRAP laws (or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) will do nothing but force people into unwarranted and unconscionable situations that can have radically detrimental consequences.
Or in plain English: people will be in mental and physical danger when they can’t receive medical care.
Make no mistake: this bill is horseshit. It’s a craven display of how broken our state government is. One political party has hijacked the system through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and victimization narratives that would feel much more sincere if Republicans weren’t punching down so often.
While the actions we’ve seen in the past 24 hours reflect hallmark characteristics of our state’s Republican leadership - cruel, oppressive, and clandestine behavior have been the norm - neither this moment nor this legislation reflects the wishes of their constituents. Time and time again, North Carolinians have shown overwhelming opposition to the idea of our government interfering with our personal autonomy.
As a frequent public speaker on reproductive justice, I’ve encouraged people to vote, to take up space, and to make themselves seen and heard. I will continue to do so.
Our clinic has been helping patients access abortion care since the Dobbs decision. We have spent countless hours and sleepless nights to find solutions in seas of uncertainty, doing whatever we can to ensure that as many people can receive the care they deserve as possible. My staff and I have been here, riding through this storm, often to our own detriment. We will continue to do so.
We will likely see at least some of this bill become law. I wish I had something better to say, and honestly, I’m at a bit of a loss trying to think of what more I can give this movement.
But this feeling? This desperation I feel is what patients across this country have been feeling for months, years, decades, yet they find a way, and in their honor, so will we.
Wow. Calla Hales is horrible to her own repro groups and volunteers. She is known in the community as a toxic human being.