CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A landmark ruling nearly nine months ago is driving more visitors to the Tar Heel state.
North Carolina saw the largest abortion rate spike in the country after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, but N.C.’s abortion access might not be flexible for long.
It would only take two democrats to side with republican lawmakers to override Governor Cooper’s veto and pass stricter abortion access laws in N.C. But right now, no restrictions beyond the twenty-week ban are on the table, which is why so many women are crossing state lines to access abortion care here.
Republican Representative Jeffrey McNeely hinted at new abortion legislation, but no bills have been filed thus far.
“This is something that I think we need to make sure we get it right when we do decide to do something,” McNeely said. “And we have to work with both chambers to make sure we’re all in agreeance.”
McNeely would like to see a six-week abortion ban passed. On the other side of the aisle, Senator Rachel Hunt is working to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade with Senate Bill 19. But Hunt doesn’t expect the bill to pass with republicans having a supermajority in the Senate.
“We cannot let our women and our families suffer, like others in states that have extreme abortion, or anti-abortion laws, and force people to travel to leave their house, leave their children, leave their job, drive hundreds of miles and risk their own lives and safety in order to have this procedure done,” Hunt said.
Data released from We Count, the Society of Family Planning, shows N.C. had a 37% increase in abortions between April and August of last year following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
“We’ve definitely seen a surge, especially here in Charlotte,” said Calla Hales, Executive Director of A Preferred Women’s Health Center in Charlotte. “We also have a facility in Raleigh who’s also seeing a surge, but it’s not as, I guess, noticeable in Raleigh as it is in Charlotte. I think that has a lot to do with the fact we’re right on the border of South Carolina.”
Nationwide, abortions have decreased by about 6% since Roe was overturned. S.C. saw an 80% decrease in abortions from April to July and then a 56% decrease from July to August.
Within that time, state lawmakers passed the heartbeat bill, which banned abortion after six weeks. Courts in S.C. overruled the ban, and S.C. went back to their original 20-week policy. Though data shows many S.C. residents are still traveling up north to complete the procedure.
“This doesn’t come with a guidebook,” Hales said. “So we’ve had to do our best to kind of make changes as we go to see how we can accommodate the need. You know, that means hiring new staff, that means extending hours, you know, we’ve played around with different types of scheduling.”
A Preferred Women’s Health Center is one of three clinics that offer abortion services in Charlotte.
Only nine counties in N.C., out of 100, have abortion clinics.
Hales says the lack of abortion clinics is due to the stringent laws and regulations to open these types of clinics up.