North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, faith leaders and activists on Monday rallied for abortion access and reproductive freedom across the state.
Jan. 22 marks the 51st anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which until it was overturned in 2022 granted American women the constitutional right to an abortion.
In May 2023, the state Senate approved a 12-week abortion ban, requiring two in-person appointments prior to abortion and counseling 72 hours before.
On Monday a group of faith leaders gathered at 10 a.m. at Bicentennial Plaza in downtown Raleigh on the Roe v. Wade anniversary. Multiple speakers, including local clergy, expressed the need for safe abortion care for women in North Carolina and across the country.
Jennifer Copeland, executive director for the NC Council Of Churches, spoke to WRAL News.
“You’ve been hearing that Christians don’t agree with abortion … that is simply not true,” Copeland said. “If your faith tells you that you should be against abortion that is your choice. My faith tells me that if I want to have an abortion, or my daughter or my sister or my niece, then they have the right to make that choice based on their own religious beliefs.”
“The majority of people of faith in North Carolina deeply believe in a birthing person’s right to bodily autonomy,” said Rev. Lisa Anne Garcia-Sampson. “We’re tired of a minority of people of faith claiming to be the moral voice in North Carolina.”
Tonya Baker Nelson, CEO of Hand of Hope Pregnancy Centers, disagrees.
“Reproductive justice begins in the womb, so that’s disheartening to me to hear faith leaders who think that the Bible teaches abortion is okay, because it’s not,” Nelson said.
At 1 p.m., Gov. Roy Cooper spoke out for abortion access in Charlotte, urging North Carolina voters to support Democratic candidates in the Nov. 5, 2024, races for president and governor.
Cooper highlighted North Carolina’s status as a battleground state, explaining the importance of voting in presidential and local elections, especially when it comes to the fight about abortion access for women.
In the year since Roe v. Wade was overturned, 20 states have banned or severely restricted abortion, and according to an NBC news poll, 61% of registered voters disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision.
WRAL data trackers found an estimated 38,000 abortions were performed in North Carolina during the first 10 months of 2023, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute.
Fewer were performed in the months following the state’s change in abortion laws, with July being the lowest and seeing a 31% drop, month-over-month.
Nationwide data collected from the reproductive rights organization shows abortions last year were likely to be higher when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which is also true for North Carolina. The data show that 19% more abortions were reportedly performed in the state through October than in all of 2021.