Vice President Pence is visiting Raleigh this week to meet with anti-abortion special interest groups, and we are seeing an escalation of misleading, inflammatory, and ideological anti-abortion rhetoric in an attempt to score political points ahead of a crucial election. Unfortunately, we have come to expect this kind of rhetoric by elected officials whose policy agendas prioritize criminalizing all abortion, eliminating access to contraception and comprehensive sex education, and cutting access to affordable healthcare, including prenatal and post-partum care.
Vice President Pence has a long-established history of pushing extreme anti-abortion policies, such as requiring burials for fetuses and introducing legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, during his time as Governor of Indiana and as a U.S. Representative. This agenda to outlaw all abortion is out of touch with the majority of people in this country and has been for many years. In fact, support for access to abortion without government interference has grown over the past four years, and we see the same trend here: A recent poll of North Carolinians showed 74% believe people should make their own decisions about abortion.
As Vice President Pence will also be visiting an anti-abortion fake clinic in Raleigh, we want to reiterate these fake clinics exist solely to coerce, shame, intimidate, and deceive people out of accessing abortion, even if that is what the person has decided is best for themselves and their families. These fake clinics are neither a substitute for nor the equivalent of accessible, quality, non-judgmental reproductive health care, which too many people in North Carolina lack due to the cruel refusal of leadership at the North Carolina General Assembly to expand Medicaid.
Expanding Medicaid is but one of the priorities North Carolinians have right now: Paid sick leave for all workers, especially essential workers; protecting vulnerable populations, including students, during the COVID-19 pandemic; ending white supremacy; repairing our broken Unemployment Insurance system; increasing access to affordable, safe child care for all parents; and protecting voting rights are just some of our top concerns. What we North Carolinians do not want is our elected officials taking away our right to access the healthcare we need.
For too long, abortion access (as part of the full range of reproductive health care options) has been treated as a game by cynical anti-abortion politicians and conservative special interest groups looking to consolidate their power. No matter how much harm their anti-abortion and anti-healthcare policies cause children and families, particularly in communities of color, these anti-abortion extremists always fall back on inflammatory and misleading anti-abortion rhetoric to claim they are promoting “family values.” We North Carolinians deserve better than dangerous rhetoric and policies that don’t address our lives and experiences–We deserve policies that overwhelmingly support reproductive freedom for all.