by Jamie L. Chachere-Cheveralls, NC Newsline
I’ve always been intentional about distinguishing myself as “from New Orleans” rather than “from Louisiana.” I am ashamed to be from Louisiana, a state that has passed one of the strictest abortion bans in the nation. A ban that doesn’t even allow exceptions for rape and incest.
Now I can’t help but wonder, is this the trajectory North Carolina is on? It terrifies me to think SB20, which goes into effect on July 1st, is only the beginning, as many of our Republican legislators have touted victoriously. We’ve seen the bans pass in other states, and the consequences have been dire. The manner in which SB20 was passed was absolutely shameful and undemocratic. If Republicans are willing to resort to these deceitful and Machiavellian tactics, what is next for North Carolina?
At 33 years of age, I’m well into the stage of life in which friends are starting or expanding their families. Thanks to bills like SB20, however, when a friend shares news of a pregnancy, my heart sinks, even if this is happy news for my friends. Terror is the first feeling I experience now. Not joy. Not surprise. Sheer terror. It’s frightening for me, and I’m only the recipient of the news. It’s even more anxiety provoking for my pregnant friends who are afraid that something will go wrong, and they won’t receive the reproductive healthcare they need and deserve.
For many, pregnancy is a joyous and exciting time. No one wants to think that something may go wrong with their pregnancy. Before SB20, pregnant patients at least had the security and peace of mind in knowing that medical professionals were available to provide them with treatment options.
Now, however, their joy and excitement might be tempered with fear and anxiety that if a medical complication arises, they might not get the care they need. In the year since the Dobbs decision came down, we have heard so many stories, often directly from patients themselves on social media, sharing their experiences of being denied care until it was nearly too late. We’ve heard the stories of patients being forced to carry non-viable pregnancies. Anyone who has watched the news in the past year has likely heard these stories coming out of Texas, Missouri, Nebraska, my home state, Louisiana, and all of the other states with total or severe abortion bans.
North Carolina had the opportunity to continue to be a safe haven for patients and providers across the entire south who were being denied care due to politics. Had we expanded reproductive healthcare access in North Carolina, we could’ve created more practices that offer reproductive healthcare, attracted the best healthcare providers, and served patients across the south who needed abortion and comprehensive reproductive healthcare services.
But our Republican-controlled legislature closed the door to these opportunities: to codifying Roe v. Wade, to attracting the best doctors in the nation, to addressing our abysmal maternal mortality rates, and to expanding our healthcare system, especially in rural areas. Our legislature has endangered patients, particularly those who already struggle to access any kind of healthcare and providers.
Ethically treating patients, according to best medical practices, means that providers will potentially have to decide if they want to risk the license and livelihood they worked so hard to achieve to stay in North Carolina. SB20 is cruel and will hurt patients and providers.
When Roe was overturned a year ago, I told my friends and family in New Orleans, and along the Gulf Coast, that they were always welcome in North Carolina. But when the Republicans voted to override Governor Cooper’s veto on SB20, they made it clear that those who care about pregnant patients and those who believe in our rights to control our own bodies and lives don’t count in North Carolina. Women and people who can get pregnant are de facto second-class citizens here.
This is not a state that I’m proud to call home either.
NC Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. NC Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Rob Schofield for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow NC Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.