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Reproductive rights advocates across Buncombe County and the state are preparing to mobilize and come together in protest June 24 ― a day that marks a year since the Supreme Court’s historic reversal of Roe v. Wade and women's right to an abortion.
Since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling that overturned that right, abortion patients in Asheville’s Planned Parenthood center have increased by 189% as access is restricted around the Southeast, Barret Phillips of Buncombe County Democratic Part told the Citizen Times June 22.
“While we're not sponsoring any activities this weekend, we're not done fighting for abortion access in North Carolina,” Phillips said. “We would encourage people to commemorate this dark anniversary with a renewed call to action and a commitment to organize to elect candidates who will protect reproductive freedom up and down the ballot in 2024.”
June 24 also marks one week until the state’s new 12-week abortion bill takes effect on July 1, which significantly reduces abortion access in North Carolina for the first time in 50 years. This new bill, which passed May 16 when N.C. lawmakers voted to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the bill, will restrict abortions from 20 weeks of gestation under the current law down to 12 weeks, require patients to go in-person to the clinic at least twice instead of once and require state-mandated counseling to be done in-person rather than over the phone.
In a June 22 tweet, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein said he would not to prosecute certain provisions of the law.
"I support women's reproductive freedoms," Stein tweeted. "After a thorough review of the case in Planned Parenthood v. Stein, I have concluded that many of the provisions in North Carolina's anti-abortion law are unconstitutional. My office will not defend those parts of the law."
Although there is not an event being hosted within Asheville city limits, people will still be gathering in to recognize the anniversary. In Weaverville, Maggie Richards of Madison County Democratic Party is hosting a Honk and Wave event, which is a part of a nationwide National Day of Action. The event organizers urge folks to bring their signs, wear green and join together under the clock on Main Street starting at 10 a.m.
Another National Day of Action event called "Bigger than Roe" will be hosted June 24 by the Progressive Alliance of Henderson County and Henderson County NC Democrats from 11 a.m. until noon. Participants are asked to arrive with signs by 10:50 a.m. to all four corners of King Street and 6 Ave. East in Hendersonville. Organizers will have some signs to share.
The new North Carolina abortion law also includes more stringent requirements for abortion care clinics, such as an ambulatory surgical center license, which no Planned Parenthood health centers in the state currently have, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Spokesperson Molly Rivera previously told the Citizen Times. The bill directs the North Carolina Medical Care Commission, a governor-appointed board, to rewrite regulations for clinics by Oct. 1.
“The passage and veto override of SB-20 was more proof that Republicans in North Carolina are committed to an extreme, unpopular agenda that will harm our state,” Phillips said. “They push bills like this through with limited debate and public comment because they know they are not popular, and as long as they have the power to harm people, they will.”
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Dr. Beverly Gray, a Duke University OB-GYN, filed a federal lawsuit June 16 against the new state law, arguing that numerous provisions are unclear and unconstitutional and that it includes additional restrictions that many patients are unaware of, causing hurdles the “impede health care professional from providing quality care.” That’s according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
In addition to addressing abortion, SB-20 created or changed laws on other topics. These include:
New or increased criminal penalties for domestic violence, sex offenders and people who assault pregnant women.
Increased funding for childcare, contraceptives, pregnancy care, maternity care, foster care and adoption services.
Expansion of the type of care that certified nurse midwives can provide without a doctor’s supervision.
Paid leave for state employees when their children are born or adopted.
Ryley Ober is the Public Safety Reporter for Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Please support local, daily journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Abortion rights rallies planned in WNC year after Roe overturned