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Op-Ed: Equal Access to Reproductive Rights

This op-ed was originally published in the News & Observer.

The members of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina celebrated Mother’s Day with heavy hearts. But we are resolved to ensure that all people have equal access to reproductive rights.

We are experiencing an attack on the right of anyone with a uterus to make their own reproductive decisions. It intensified last week with news concerning a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion indicating a court majority is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.

Let’s be clear: Abolishing the constitutional right to make choices about reproductive rights does not do away with abortions. It just eliminates safe and legal procedures. And the effects will not be felt equally.

According to an Associated Press analysis, minority women, who already have less access to healthcare, will be negatively impacted most. It said: “If you are Black or Hispanic in a conservative state that already limits access to abortions, you are far more likely than a white woman to have one. And if the U.S. Supreme Court allows states to further restrict or even ban abortions, minority women...will bear the brunt of it...”

Without the legal equality guaranteed by the 28th Amendment — the Equal Rights Amendment — hostile legislators will continue to overturn reproductive rights, and also gut other laws that have brought us the equality we have. Publication and enforcement of the Equal Rights Amendment is literally a matter of life and death for millions. This is no time for silence.

North Carolina voters must understand candidates’ stances before they vote. They must write to elected officials. Tell them that reproductive rights are human rights. Everyone deserves bodily autonomy. No exceptions.