Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Cooper signs off on protecting women who travel into NC for abortion

Executive Order 263 takes on myriad protections to cover doctors, nurses, and patients for women’s reproductive rights. (Port City Daily/File)

With the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade, in effect allowing states to determine abortion rights, Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Wednesday to tighten protections for reproductive healthcare services offered in the state.

North Carolina is one of two dozen states that continue to allow the procedure. Neighboring South Carolina and Tennessee have prohibited or restricted abortions.

READ MORE: ‘Feels like a punch in the stomach’: Protesters, leaders react to overturning of Roe v. Wade

Executive Order 263 takes on myriad protections to cover doctors, nurses, and patients. It directs Cabinet agencies to refrain from helping other states investigate anyone who travels to North Carolina to receive reproductive health services.

It also will not force a pregnant Cabinet agency employee to travel to a state that doesn’t protect her health rights.

The order is clear that the state will not extradite anyone threatened by prosecution for receiving an abortion, and it ensures law enforcement agencies will follow the law to protect abortion clinics and those seeking the procedure. It instructs not allowing anyone to block healthcare facilities that offer the procedure.

Cooper signed the order Wednesday with Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, by his side.

“We must continue to do everything in our power to ensure abortion remains accessible in North Carolina, both for North Carolinians and those forced to flee their own state amid mounting restrictions and cruel bans,” Johnson said in a press release sent from the governor’s office.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic is reporting one-third of the patients in North Carolina clinics traveled from out of state just this week to seek services. Officials are projecting it could result in 10,000 patients rendering treatment from Planned Parenthood in the Tar Heel state.

North Carolina allows patients to get an abortion up to 25 weeks. It does require a 72-hour waiting period and has other restrictions, such as mandatory counseling and ultrasounds, medication via telemedicine, and parental consent for minors.

However, women’s access to reproductive health has not been codified by state legislature. Republicans have already begun speaking out about taking stricter measures, especially if tables turn in the fall’s midterm election.

Speaker of the House Tim Moore supports anti-abortion legislation. 

“North Carolinians can expect pro-life protections to be a top-priority of the legislature when we return to our normal legislative session in January,” Moore said upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 25. “North Carolinians can rest assured that we are taking necessary steps to ensure that current restrictions on the books will be enforced.” 

Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger already have called on Attorney General Josh Stein to lift the 2019 injunction on a 20-week abortion ban. It is now enforceable due to Roe’s overruling.

“The Supreme Court ripped away the constitutional right to reproductive freedom that women have relied on for five decades,” Cooper said in the release, reminding constituents his veto power continues to safeguard women’s right to choose in North Carolina. If a Republican supermajority takes over this election year, the governor could be outnumbered.

“People need to know that their votes in state legislative races this November will determine the fate of women’s health and freedom in our state,” Cooper said in the release.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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