By the hundreds, protesters surrounded the State Legislature. They chanted, “My body, my choice,” as they walked past the Executive Mansion and back to Bicentennial Plaza. Dianne Mayer marched every step of the way.
“We’re fighting back,” Mayer said.
Meyer was there in 1973 when Roe V Wade legalized abortion. She was wearing the same apron she wore in 1989 during another constitutional skirmish to protect Roe.
“And it’s actually signed by Jane Roe. So, I’m sorry it’s so many years later and I’m still wearing this,” Mayer said.
Further down the plaza, two Raleigh sisters, Megan and Kyra Anderson scrawled their disbelief about Roe’s reversal on the back of an old cereal box.
“It’s just kind of hard to think about having a baby. I mean I’m in college and she’s in high school and I couldn’t even imagine being forced to raise a child,” Megan said.
“Nothing’s going to change unless people like us and our generation and everybody that’s here does something about it.” Kyra said.
Meanwhile, a flurry of reaction to the ruling from the powers on Jones Street. Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger and Republican House Speaker Tim Moore sent a public letter to Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein, demanding Stein immediately enforce North Carolina’s 20-week abortion ban.
The state law was struck down in 2019 for violating Roe. Now, that Roe has fallen, the state’s top Republicans warning Stein to enforce it, or they will.
“It’s possible that if Republicans in the General Assembly are unhappy with the degree that Josh Stein is working to restrict abortion that they may take up the mantle of challenging those laws themselves,” said Rebecca Krietzer, a UNC political science professor and abortion policy expert.
Minutes after the decision came down in Washington, Tami Fitzgerald, one of the state’s leading social conservative activists and anti-abortion advocates, called it a win for life.
“This is a huge victory for unborn babies and their mothers. Lives are already being saved in Mississippi and other states around the country. Around 26 states today became pro-life. Unfortunately, North Carolina is not one of them,” Fitzgerald said.
As many nearby states immediately banned abortions on news of the ruling, NC State political science professor Steven Greene warned of what may be an influx of women seeking abortions in North Carolina, potentially putting a squeeze on care.
“And North Carolina could be the closest state for many people from hundreds of miles away. Which will, presumably, put a real crunch on the capacity of abortion providers in North Carolina,” said Greene.
Back on Bicentennial Plaza, it was personal for Donna Bailey.
“I fear for our young people. I really do. We’re going backwards,” Bailey said.
Abortion was legalized in 1973. Donna was a pregnant teen in ’75. She chose to end her pregnancy, safely and legally.
“And if I hadn’t, my life would’ve been very different,” Bailey said. “I probably would have gotten an illegal abortion somewhere. But I don’t know how that would’ve worked or if would’ve been safe. Abortions are not gonna stop. Women are still gonna have abortions. But you’re also gonna have women dying.”
The state’s top Republicans, Phil Berger and Tim Moore are giving Attorney General Stein until July 1 to respond to their letter. But, with less than one week remaining in this year’s legislative session, Berger and Moore said North Carolinians should not expect any new abortion bills to be filed in the near term.
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