As advocates for equitable access to the full range of comprehensive reproductive health care options, we support Governor Cooper’s veto of the state budget, and we call on lawmakers to uphold the veto. The current budget is an inadequate plan that falls far short of addressing the healthcare coverage gap that over 600,000 North Carolinians fall into, in large part because the budget does not include Medicaid expansion.

Since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, conservative lawmakers in North Carolina have done everything they could to resist implementation of this necessary healthcare reform effort. The ACA was a good first step in addressing many women’s unmet health needs, including improving access to affordable birth control, maternity care, and cancer screenings, particularly for women of lower income, young women, rural women, and queer and gender non-binary people. One of the most effective ways of addressing those needs has been through Medicaid expansion, something 37 other states have done. By refusing—again—to participate in this program, in which 90% of the costs are paid by the federal government, North Carolina’s legislative leadership is putting lives at risk to make an out-of-touch political point.

Furthermore, with hundreds of thousands of North Carolina women in need of access to quality and medically accurate reproductive health care, the proposed budget adds insult to injury by diverting a record $2.64 million in tax dollars to anti-abortion fake clinics (“crisis pregnancy centers”). Since 2013, anti-abortion lawmakers in North Carolina have funneled resources for actual healthcare to these organizations that do not provide healthcare or evidence-based programs, are deceptive in their advertising, promote false and medically inaccurate ideological statements as fact, and whose stated goals are to convince people who are pregnant not to have abortions.  Increasing healthcare dollars to these fake clinics while denying people of lower income access to quality, medically accurate healthcare ensures that more vulnerable pregnant patients will end up in these fake clinics seeking access to care that will not be forthcoming. This is unacceptable.

We urge lawmakers to stand up for equitable reproductive health care access, to love North Carolina by funding initiatives that will actually benefit North Carolinians (like Medicaid expansion), and to sustain the Governor Cooper’s veto of this harmful budget.

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