Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday signed an Executive Order that takes several steps to defend access to reproductive health services in North Carolina.

He was joined by Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and state reproductive care advocates to highlight actions to protect women’s access to reproductive health care.

“The Supreme Court ripped away the constitutional right to reproductive freedom that women have relied on for five decades,” Cooper said. “For now, it’s up to the states to determine whether women get reproductive health care, and in North Carolina they still can, thanks to my veto and enough legislative votes to sustain it. I am determined to keep it that way and people need to know that their votes in state legislative races this November will determine the fate of women’s health and freedom in our state.”

“Planned Parenthood Action Fund thanks Governor Cooper for responding to the urgency of this moment,” added Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, North Carolina has become an increasingly critical access point for people traveling for abortion care, including from neighboring South Carolina and Tennessee, where lawmakers in both states have swiftly banned most abortions. Now we must continue to do everything in our power to ensure abortion remains accessible in North Carolina, both for North Carolinians and those forced to flee their own state amid mounting restrictions and cruel bans.”

“For now, abortion is still legal in North Carolina. But our reproductive freedom is hanging by a thread. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has paved the way for state lawmakers to pass an all-out ban as soon as next year,” said Jenny Black, president & CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic. “Our objective is clear: to keep abortion legal in this state, North Carolinians must elect candidates who will protect access to sexual and reproductive health care at the state level and ensure Governor Cooper has the necessary votes to sustain his veto of the all-out attacks on reproductive freedom that are sure to come. The future of abortion access not only for North Carolinians but potentially the entire Southeast region is on the line in 2022, and we thank Governor Cooper for his strong advocacy in support of reproductive freedom today.”

As state bans in the region and across the country go into effect, victims of rape and incest are no longer able to access reproductive health care in certain states. North Carolina is already seeing an influx of patients coming to the state for safe care.

According to Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, one-third of the patients on their schedule in clinics in North Carolina are from out of state this week. That means there are projected to be at least 10,000 people coming to North Carolina to access reproductive health care services, mostly from states with bans and tighter restrictions. These are just numbers from Planned Parenthood, and do not include estimates from the state’s other trusted providers.

Executive Order 263 helps protect North Carolina doctors and nurses and their patients. It directs Cabinet agencies to coordinate to protect reproductive health care services in North Carolina. As a result of this Order, Cabinet agencies cannot require a pregnant state employee to travel to a state where there are not protections for the health of the pregnant person. It directs the Department of Public Safety to work with law enforcement to ensure enforcement of a state law that prohibits anyone from blocking access to a health care facility. The Order also provides protections against extradition for those seeking or providing reproductive health care services in North Carolina and prohibits Cabinet agencies from cooperating in investigations initiated by other states into anyone obtaining or providing reproductive health care that is legal North Carolina. This Order will help make sure patients get the care they need in North Carolina.

Read the Executive Order HERE.

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