As advocates for equitable access to the full range of comprehensive reproductive health care options, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina supported Governor Cooper’s veto of the state budget, and we called on lawmakers to uphold the veto. The proposed budget was always an inadequate plan that fell far short of addressing the healthcare coverage gap that over 600,000 North Carolinians fall into, in large part because the proposed budget did not include Medicaid expansion.
Today’s vote to override that veto – with just over half of the House members present, and after progressive lawmakers had been told there would be no morning vote – demonstrates clearly just how little the House Speaker and his conservative colleagues value the democratic governing process, the will of North Carolina voters, and the health and lives of North Carolina residents. Today’s legislative shenanigans were nothing but an attempt to score a cynical political points ahead of next year’s elections, and further erode the public’s trust in its elected officials.
With hundreds of thousands of North Carolina people in need of access to quality and medically accurate reproductive health care, this 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.
Lawmakers have a duty to vote for a budget based on what will be best for the majority of North Carolinians, not on a budget that merely scores a victory over their political opponents. We urge lawmakers to take a close look at their priorities for the people of North Carolina, and do what they can to uphold the veto on the proposed budget.