Source: Editorial Board
On Wednesday, North Carolina House and Senate Democrats held a joint press conference to announce two bills, Senate Bill 540 and House Bill 670, that aim to protect North Carolinians’ right to access contraception.
Both bills assert North Carolinians’ fundamental right to use contraception and ensure the state government will not limit such freedom. The House bill also works to expand access to emergency contraception on college campuses.
“Senator [Lisa] Grafstein and I introduced these two bills because we know that the right to contraception is critical to reproductive freedom, and is especially vital now given North Carolina’s new abortion ban and ongoing maternal mortality crisis,” said Representative Julie von Haefen, one of the primary sponsors of H.B. 670, at the press conference.
The fight over reproductive freedom has been a central part of the legislative session this year. The Democrats’ announcement came just days before the extreme abortion ban driven by legislative Republicans is set to go into effect on July 1.
Earlier this week, Republicans in the NCGA hurriedly passed changes to the ban, in anticipation of a court hearing on the law. The court hearing, a motion filed by Planned Parenthood and others for a temporary restraining order on the ban, was heard by a federal judge in Greensboro Wednesday. The judge ruled Friday that nearly all the law, with the exception of one part, will take effect on July 1.
“Republicans here at the General Assembly have shown that they are determined to push their agenda of control and power, no matter the consequence. They ran through an extreme and unpopular abortion ban and have made it clear that they will not stop there. They continue to demonstrate dangerous overreach by politicians into our personal lives,” von Haefen said.
Republican leaders have made it clear that the imminent abortion ban is just the beginning of their plans to restrict reproductive freedom in the state. Mark Robinson, the Republican frontrunner for governor, notably said if he were elected governor, he would work with the legislature to “pass a bill saying you can’t have an abortion in North Carolina for any reason.”
In addition to von Haefen and Grafstein, two others spoke at the Wednesday press conference. Jill Sergison, a registered nurse, spoke about the importance of accessible contraception for achieving health equity. And Mark Sandlin, an ordained Presbyterian minister, spoke about contraception access from a faith perspective.
“Those who wish to use Christianity to oppose bills like the right to use contraception…are ignoring the commandment that Jesus said was the most important one, to love your neighbor as yourself,” said Rev. Sandlin. “The loving and Biblically sound thing to do is to put this bill into law in order to ensure the essential right to contraception, and make sure that it is protected.”
Sen. Grafstein announced Wednesday that with Republicans not expected to allow S.B. 540 to pass committee, she has filed a discharge petition to force a vote on the bill.