Advocating for Abortion in NC

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this year, it’s that we cannot rely on the federal government to protect our right to abortion. We must work within our state to ensure that people can continue to access abortion services in North Carolina in a post-Roe world.  

There is strength in community. We have a responsibility to our fellow North Carolinians to fight for our abortion rights. Together, we can take steps to protect access to abortion for all.  

While NC does not have an outright ban on abortion, there are significant restrictions in state law.  

In August 2022, a federal judge lifted an injunction blocking North Carolina’s ban on abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, allowing the law to go into effect. The ban had been blocked for more than three years, allowing patients to seek abortion care up to viability, but now patients must travel out of state for care after the 20th week of pregnancy except for very narrow circumstances. 

Currently, NC faces some ongoing legislative and legal battles. In 2020, NC abortion providers and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective filed litigation challenging several of NC’s abortion restrictions. These restrictions are still in place as the case makes its way through the courts.  

In June, NC lawmakers in both chambers introduced bills to codify the protections of Roe v Wade in our state. While they are unlikely to pass due to a majority anti-choice legislature, they allow us to demonstrate the popularity of these protections.  

We will continue to look for opportunities to advocate for reproductive freedom on the state level. We hope that you will join us in fighting for abortion access in our state. We've included some actions you can take to help the movement.

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1. Donate to abortion funds and providers

A.Donate to abortion funds and providers

A.

Abortion funds are a critical way to give money to abortion patients who need it now. Many people struggle to afford abortion services. Insurance rarely covers abortion, and the cost can be prohibitive for many patients.  

The Carolina Abortion Fund provides financial support to patients in North and South Carolina who need help paying for their abortion services. Individual donations go directly to the people they serve. By donating, you can help subsidize the cost of abortion for people who can’t afford it.   

You can also fund the clinics that provide abortions in your area. Abortion clinics are nonprofit organizations that rely on donations to continue providing care. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic provides abortions at five health centers in North Carolina: Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Chapel Hill, and Wilmington. There are also ten independent clinics in North Carolina: 

2. Understand abortion and economic injustice

A.Understand abortion and economic injustice

A.

The cost of an abortion appointment is not the only financial consideration. Only nine of NC’s 100 counties have an abortion provider, meaning that many must travel to their appointment. They may have to take time off work, which for low-wage workers can be detrimental to their income, if not their employment generally. Sixty percent of people who have abortions already have at least one child, so they may have to arrange childcare, which can be expensive. They may also have to pay for public transportation or ride shares to get to their appointment.  

Abortion funds sometimes provide financial assistance for these additional costs, but they have limited capacity. Providing sustained support can allow them more room to serve more people and cover more costs. 

3. Vote for pro-choice candidates

A.Vote for pro-choice candidates

A.

We are one election away from losing abortion access in North Carolina. This year’s November elections will be crucial in maintaining abortion access in North Carolina, particularly the state and local elections. In 2019 and 2021, the North Carolina General Assembly passed bills seeking to further limit and stigmatize abortion. Governor Cooper vetoed those bills, so they did not go into effect. However, if anti-choice lawmakers win a supermajority—two-thirds of the seats in the state House and Senate—they could pass restrictions by overriding Governor Cooper’s veto. Currently, the legislature does not have enough anti-choice representatives to achieve their goal. It is imperative that we ensure that continues after this year’s election.  

Get all the information you need to register to vote and learn about upcoming elections at NCvoter.org.

You can also: 

  • Get involved with local campaigns to encourage others to vote. Tell your friends and loved ones to vote in the election.  
  • Offer rides to people who want to vote but don’t have transportation. 
  • Host your own voter registration drive; find out how on the State Board of Elections website.

4. Get involved with pro-choice organizations

A.Get involved with pro-choice organizations

A.

Becoming a clinic escort is a great way to show your support for abortion patients and improve access to abortion care. Often, protesters stand outside abortion clinics to harass patients. For many, this is an extra deterrent that increases shame and stigma against those exercising their legal right to an abortion. Clinic escorts provide a protective barrier between patients and protesters, limiting their interactions and ensuring that patients have someone on their side as they enter the clinic. The Triangle Abortion Access Coalition and the Charlotte Reproductive Action Network are two organizations operating in NC that coordinate clinic escort volunteers. If you don’t live in the Triangle or Charlotte, you can email your local clinic and ask if they need volunteers.  

You can also follow the work of pro-choice advocacy organizations. Here is an incomplete list of organizations seeking to advance reproductive freedom in NC: 

5. Engage in community organizing

A.Engage in community organizing

A.

As abortion rights come under threat again and again, organizations across the country are gathering to fight for reproductive rights. Attending protests and staying apprised of other actions in your community can be a helpful way to show your support for abortion rights.  

If you plan to attend a protest, make sure you do so safely. Unfortunately, government and police sometimes violate an individual’s right to protest, and protesters are sometimes met with violence. Knowing your rights is the most powerful weapon you have against police abuse. The ACLU has a guide to your rights while protesting.  

There are also other ways to organize in your community. Collective action can be powerful. Some options may be to: 

  • Coordinate rides for people who need transportation to get to their appointment 
  • Provide free childcare for folks who need it 
  • Organize housing for people coming from out of state for abortion care. 

Consider what abortion patients in your state might need and if you have access, resources, or skills that can help fill that need. We are in this together. It is important for people accessing abortion to know that they’re not alone.  

6. Learn about the history of abortion rights and reproductive justice

A.Learn about the history of abortion rights and reproductive justice

A.

Abortion restriction has a tumultuous history connected to white supremacy. You can start learning about that with SisterSong, a Black women-created reproductive justice organization, and their page on centering Black women’s issues and leadership. For more coverage on the history of abortion in the U.S., you can take a look at this overview from Planned Parenthood. We've also created a timeline of abortion laws in North Carolina

7. Destigmatize abortion in your community

A.Destigmatize abortion in your community

A.

Abortion stigma is a cultural understanding that abortion is morally wrong or socially unacceptable. This idea contributes to the shame and secrecy surrounding abortion and can make people hesitant to exercise their right to bodily autonomy. On a broader level, this stigma also contributes to the harassment and threats of violence that abortion patients and providers sometimes face.  

People don’t often talk about abortion in their families and communities, but this silence only serves to perpetuate stigma. By opening the conversation with your loved ones, you can help normalize abortion and decrease shame. You may also identify yourself as someone that friends can come to if they need support.  

Oftentimes, people stigmatize abortion without meaning to. It’s important to lead with empathy for the people who have abortions, center their needs and decisions, and bring the conversation back to shared values. Ultimately, abortion is an individual’s decision and they should have power over their own body. Abortion is a normal part of reproductive health care and should be treated as such.  

For more information about abortion stigma, you can visit this page from Planned Parenthood Action Fund and this page from Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. To understand the myriad experiences with abortion, you can read abortion stories (keep in mind that these sometimes include stories of violence and can be triggering for some people):