NARAL Pro-Choice Executive Director Tara Romano participated in a press conference with partners Equality NC, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, and Progress NC to call out the misplaced priorities of the 2018 NC General Assembly’s proposed budget.
Good afternoon. My name is Tara Romano, and I am the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. We are a statewide advocacy organization that is stands for the value of bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom for all people in North Carolina, supporting personal decisions to prevent pregnancy, terminate a pregnancy or carry a pregnancy safely to term and raise families in safe and healthy environments. Our foundational belief has always been that we trust people to make the decisions that are best for them, and that we create a society that supports these decisions.
So it’s no surprise that we won’t stand quietly by while out-of-touch, anti-choice leadership at the General Assembly gives our tax dollars to deceptive, exploitive fake women’s health centers that exist solely for pushing an extremist anti-abortion message. Vulnerable North Carolinians seeking health care during a time of anxiety and stress are just pawns to ideologues that want to impose their religious beliefs on all North Carolinians, and who are asking for money from our government to do so.
The elected officials of North Carolina have an obligation to state residents to spend the tax dollars they collect from us on the common good, and to create a state in which everyone can thrive. That includes spending Dept of Health and Human Services dollars on programs that enhance and improve health. That does not include diverting federal tax dollars provided to improve maternal and infant health to programs that show no evidence of improving these metrics, and, by potentially delaying their typically low-income clinics from getting actual health care, may in fact negatively impact health outcomes.
Spending some of these tax dollars on advertising campaigns, we see these fake clinics targeting vulnerable people who may be pregnant and scared, who are young and in need of guidance, who are low-income, who are rural residents, who are immigrants, who are people of color – any one who has traditionally not had access to quality, affordable health care in our country. By exploiting people who are in need of medically accurate and comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care, these fake centers are trying to create a captive audience so they can spread a political anti-abortion message. These centers will spread medically inaccurate and misleading information about abortion, birth control and sexuality; and shame the people who walk into these centers about their decisions and their actions. Whatever one’s opinion on abortion, public health dollars should never go to programs that promote false health information and concepts.
Starting with $250K in 2013, the most recent NCGA budget is now proposing $1.55 million dollars to spend on fake health centers that deceive people into thinking they provide health care, when in fact they don’t; that seek to impose a specific religious belief on the general public; and who’s main goal is to end access to safe and legal abortion, a goal that is out of step with the majority of North Carolinians.
Providing access to affordable health care for the approximately 250,000 North Carolina women without health insurance should be a top priority for North Carolina lawmakers. Instead they’ve refused to expand Medicaid, stopped state funding of trusted safety net provider Planned Parenthood and are now funneling over $1.5 million in taxpayer money to anti-abortion fake women’s health centers that provide little, if any, actual medical care. With little evidence that these centers improve maternal or infant health, North Carolinians deserve a government that puts their health needs first.