Op-Ed: Reproductive rights will be a key issue on 2024 ballots

Sign from a pro-choice rally in Raleigh.

By Julie von Haefen

February 1, 2024

This op-ed initially appeared online at the Capitol Broadcasting Opinion section – www.wral.com/opinion.

Last month marked the 51st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court enabled the citizens of this country to make deeply personal healthcare decisions free from political interference by reinforcing the fundamental right to privacy and reaffirming basic principles of equality. Nineteen months ago, MAGA Republicans and Donald Trump used their hand-picked Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe and, as Trump likes to brag about it, “killed” that essential right. Since then, we have witnessed countless horrifying stories of patients across the country needlessly suffering because Republican lawmakers are denying them lifesaving care and threatening doctors with prosecution for doing their jobs.

North Carolina’s Republicans wasted no time pursuing their extreme anti-abortion agenda once Roe fell. They used every procedural trick and manipulation they could to subvert the popular will of our state and rush SB 20, a devastating 12-week abortion ban, through our legislature with midnight votes, limited opportunity for members of the public to comment, and curtailed floor discussion. Thanks to Donald Trump and the NC GOP, more than 1 in 3 women of reproductive age now live under an abortion ban in our country. And, according to Republican leaders, including NC House Speaker Tim Moore, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson—the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to be NC’s next governor—and Donald Trump himself, a 12-week ban isn’t enough.

Speaker Moore personally supports a 6-week ban, and NC Senate leader Phil Berger predicted that if more Republicans win seats this year, new legislation in 2025 could “push it further.” Robinson has publicly called abortion “murder” and explicitly told supporters that “once a woman is pregnant, her body is no longer her own.” Trump has said that “there has to be some form of punishment” for patients who obtain abortions and has promised “to be leading the charge” to pass a federal abortion ban if he is reelected this year. 

Anti-abortion Republicans are running at every level on their extremist anti-freedom agendas to take away rights and dictate our private health care decisions. Meanwhile, Democrats from the state legislature to the Oval Office are committed to ensuring Americans have more rights, not fewer. The past two legislative sessions, I filed the “Removing Barriers to Gain Access to Abortion Act” or “RBG Act,” which would have removed every medically unnecessary barrier to care that state politicians have imposed on North Carolinians. President Biden has vowed to veto any national ban if Congress passes one, and the Biden-Harris administration is actively working to defend access to contraception, medication abortion, and emergency medical care for pregnant patients.

The basic right to make your own decisions about your body, your family, and your future is on the ballot this November. The stakes couldn’t be higher when you cast your vote. You will decide the future of reproductive freedom in North Carolina and the United States. I want my daughter to have the same rights that were guaranteed to me 51 years ago. That’s why I’ll be voting to elect Democrats on November 5, 2024. 

Author

  • Julie von Haefen

    Julie von Haefen has represented the 36th District in the North Carolina House of Representatives since 2019. She serves on the Appropriations, Appropriations General Government, K-12 Education, Local Government, and Military/Veterans Affairs committees. Rep. von Haefen focuses her legislative work in public education, environmental protection and reproductive justice, including abortion and contraception access, maternal health and equal rights. During her three terms in office, Rep. von Haefen has introduced numerous bills to expand access to abortion in North Carolina, as well as a comprehensive Momnibus Act to improve Black maternal and infant health. Rep. von Haefen led her caucus in fighting against Senate Bill 20 in 2023, a new abortion ban limiting access to care in NC to 12 weeks. On the one year anniversary of the Dobbs decision, Rep. von Haefen was honored to speak at a rally with Vice President Kamala Harris in Charlotte. In May 2022, Rep. von Haefen traveled to Mexico with the State Innovation Exchange to learn about the Green Wave movement, abortion access in Latin America and lessons for U.S. lawmakers. Rep. von Haefen is an attorney and lives with her husband and three children in Apex, NC.

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