Recently, a North Carolina appeals court decided to overturn its original decision regarding specialty car tags, citing a Texas decision as a precedent. This decision specifically means the Division of Motor Vehicles will be offering specialty vehicle license plates with anti-abortion slogans while refusing to also offer specialty pro-choice tags. Chief Judge William Traxler wrote in the appeals court’s decision, “We now conclude that specialty license plates issued under North Carolina’s program amount to government speech and that North Carolina is therefore free to reject license plate designs that convey messages with which it disagrees.” While the court’s decision is disappointing, I find that Chief Judge Traxler’s insinuation that the state of North Carolina disagrees with a woman’s right to choose is a serious issue that must be addressed. Since abortion is legal in the state of North Carolina up to 20 weeks, the Chief Judge was not echoing the law, but the opinion of our current administration.
According to Gallup, individuals across the U.S. are split on the issue of abortion; 50 percent are pro-choice and 45 percent are pro-life. Both sets of believers are passionate about their respective belief systems. Pro-life activists advocate for the life of embryos because by week 9 the baby’s brain, genitalia and facial features begin to develop. While this is scientifically true, women have been granted the right by law in the state of North Carolina to choose whether or not they want the responsibility of taking care of another individual for 18 years or not. After all, it is their body and therefore their right to choice. It is obvious that some of our elected individuals are pro-life and feel strongly against the law. However, each individual took an oath that requires they set aside their personal belief systems to uphold the law and the interest of all the citizens in North Carolina. Despite abortion being legal, this administration has successfully created a stench surrounding a woman’s right to choose in North Carolina.
Although abortion is a legal, safe and common medical procedure, lawmakers are constantly working to make abortion even harder to access. Women who are sixteen weeks pregnant are asked to stretch a two to four hour procedure over the course of two days. Government funded Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) feed women misinformation about not only abortion, but also about birth control. In fact, a recent study revealed 46% of the information authored by the state contains medical inaccuracies. According to NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, “90% of the counties within our state do not have any abortion providers.” All of these things hinder women from accessing their constitutional right. Governor Pat McCrory proved himself to be a liar after he publicly told a concerned citizen he would not put any restrictions on abortion 3 weeks before the last election. Yet, in 2015 he signed legislation that required women to wait at least 72 hours before terminating their pregnancy. While this law is no longer in effect, our current administration has done a number of things to hinder the evolution of women’s reproductive rights.
In the coming months, we will be participating in the general election, and it is important to ensure that the people we vote in understand they have been selected to uphold our constitutional rights and not hinder us from exercising them. Let’s work to elect an administration that uses data and the voice of their constituents to make informed decisions that help make our communities better.
Aisha Adams lives in Asheville. She is Youth Corps Case Manager at Green Opportunities, a “My Home, My Voice” fellow, and the blogger behind Nappy Natural Girl.
* This post appeared in the Citizen-Times on May 14, 2016.