RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Millions of dollars are pouring into North Carolina and key battleground states where the election will determine whether there are any major changes to abortion laws following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year.
Planned Parenthood announced Wednesday the group will spend $50 million on this year’s election, identifying North Carolina one of its target states and launching a program called “Take Control.”
The Associated Press reported it’s the largest amount of spending the group has done on any election, even eclipsing 2020, and fueled by a surge in donations driven by the Supreme Court’s decision.
The announcement came the same day a federal judge decided to reinstate a law that bans abortions in North Carolina after 20 weeks of pregnancy with limited exceptions.
“Everything is on the line. We’re going to have to leave everything on the election field this year,” said state Sen. Natalie Murdock (D-Durham).
North Carolina has a highly competitive race for U.S. Senate between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd, but state-level races will be a major focus this year as well.
Republicans are seeking to win a veto-proof supermajority in the General Assembly this year and have said that laws dealing with abortion access will be a top priority during next year’s legislative session. They’re also aiming to win a majority of seats on the state Supreme Court, which is currently comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans.
As neighboring states have moved quickly to put new restrictions on abortion in place, North Carolina has seen a substantial increase in patients traveling here for abortion services. Out-of-state patients recently have made up about one-third of patients at Planned Parenthood facilities in North Carolina.
“Here in North Carolina we’re going to do everything we can because we know we’re not just fighting for women here in North Carolina. We’re fighting for women all over the southeast,” said Murdock.
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the conservative NC Values Coalition, said her group and others affiliated with it have been working since the beginning of last year to reach voters. Susan B Anthony Pro Life America and its affiliated groups announced earlier this year a $78 million spending plan in key states.
“Abortion could actually increase in North Carolina because women are pouring across our borders right now from states that have become pro-life in the South,” said Fitzgerald. “This election is more important than ever, that we will see an increase in abortion (not a decrease) unless we elect these pro-life majorities on the court and in the General Assembly.”
U.S. Judge William Osteen issued an order Wednesday reinstating the law that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which he had blocked a few years ago citing Roe v. Wade.
Atty. Gen. Josh Stein (D) urged the judge not to reinstate it. His office joined plaintiffs in the case in arguing last week that taking that step would add to “public confusion” about abortion laws.
Republican legislative leaders argued in a separate brief that there was no legal basis for blocking the law any longer now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.
Fitzgerald said state law should go further than a 20-week ban, saying, “Really, it’s not the level we would want. We believe these unborn babies are humans and they deserve rights.”
Sen. Murdock said the decision will send a message to voters about further potential restrictions.
“For voters, it would be a signal that more is to come. I think voters would say they’re just starting with 20 weeks. Ten weeks, six weeks could be next,” she said.