Challenges ahead for those on both sides of abortion question

24 June 2022

— The U.S. Supreme Court decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade prompted an emotional response in just about everyone who heard about it. For 50 years, the court had protected a woman’s right to have an abortion.

Now, for millions of women living in 13 U.S. states, that right was stripped away.

WRAL News poll: Opinions on anti-abortion

A majority of Americans and North Carolinians believe that women should maintain their right to abortion, which is why the latest ruling caused shock and despair for many across the country.

“Women should have the right to their body. It’s their body,” said Durham resident Alexis Landa. “No man or anyone on this planet has the right to tell someone when and where they can have a child, and that they have to keep it.”

“I am really disheartened by the decision, and I think it’s a little bit of a frightening move when it comes to women’s rights and women’s choice to choose what is best for their body and healthcare,” said Vance County resident Ella Bess Marshall. “This will be one of those situations where you know where you were at the moment something this momentous happened.”

Democratic leaders and activists worry that Friday’s decision is one step closer to rolling back gay rights and limiting access to contraceptives.

But for conservative activists who’ve been tirelessly fighting against the right to abortion, Friday’s decision was a win.

Tonya Baker Nelson, founder of Hand of Hope Pregnancy Centers with locations in Fuquay-Varina, Raleigh and Fayetteville, said. “This is the day that pro-life men and women and children have prayed for, for over 50 years.”

At Hand of Hope Pregnancy Center, Nelson said she educates women on what an abortion is and then empowers those women on making a decision that she “hope[s] would be life.”

“I’m still in a little bit of shock. I don’t think it’s really hit home to me just yet,” Nelson said. “I am against abortion, and I’m proud of that. I think women deserve so much better than abortion.”

Nelson said that Friday’s decision isn’t the end of her activism.

“My personal opinion is that it would be overturned in North Carolina as well. Because tiny little babies deserve to be protected,” she said.

Nelson said the issue to her is personal. “I’ve been that woman who had an unplanned pregnancy. I’ve been that woman,” she said. Despite pressure, she said she chose not to have the procedure, and “thanks God” for that choice.

But those working to help women get access to abortion understand the battle they have ahead of them. The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, estimated that overturning Roe v. Wade would result in a 4,672% increase in the number of women whose nearest abortion provider would be in North Carolina.

Kelsea McLain, who lives in Durham, works for the Triangle Abortion Access Coalition, said Friday she can’t help but “think about all of the people who are going to be forced to continue pregnancies, or go through astronomical leaps and bounds to find a place where they can safely terminate their pregnancy in the wake of this ruling.”

McLain said she’s had three abortions in her life.

“For me it was a very easy choice, it was a simple choice, and it was one I did not need the government intervening in or interfering with,” she said.

She doesn’t regret her decision, and is “eternally grateful” for the fact that she did a medicated abortion. That means McLain didn’t have to go through a surgical procedure, but instead took an abortion pill.

How the Supreme Court ruling on abortion limits could affect North Carolina

“North Carolina is currently a state that will be receiving and supporting people in states that have trigger bans. So it’s going to be even more vital for us to protect it here,” she said.

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