A Post-Roe World

May 9, 2022

On May 2, a draft Supreme Court opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case written by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked.  Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged that the draft was authentic, though not the final decision.  The published opinion from the Court in this case is expected in the coming months.

While it has been widely predicted that the US Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, reading this leaked draft opinion and considering its repercussions was still a shock to some.  Twenty-six states are ready to ban or significantly impede access to abortion when (not if, at this point) the Supreme Court overturns Roe.  But what does it mean for North Carolinians?

The North Carolina General Assembly will become the last line of defense against anti-choice forces intent on dismantling access to abortion and reproductive health care.  Justice Alito wrote in his draft opinion that decisions affecting abortion would return to elected representatives, making it all the more apparent that women, who are profoundly affected by laws and regulations that impact abortion and reproductive freedom, must be at the table where these decisions will be made.

The truth is, elections have consequences.  The 2016 election resulted in the current makeup of the Supreme Court, the Court that is about to overturn 50 years of precedent.  Now, Congress and the NC General Assembly could and should take steps to protect reproductive freedom and codify Roe v. Wade.  But we know that can only happen if the current anti-choice majority in the NCGA is voted out of office and replaced with people who understand that abortion is health care, reproductive freedom is fundamental and women, who would be most impacted by these decisions, should have a seat at the table.  The research is clear, when women are elected, it results in not just more collaborative and transparent processes, but better legislation being adopted.

North Carolinians have an opportunity to go to the polls right now and impact who will represent us in Congress and the North Carolina General Assembly.  Early voting in the primaries have already begun and North Carolinians ought to be paying attention.  Voter turnout is typically extremely low in the primaries, but it can have a great impact on who ends up in the General Assembly.  Due to gerrymandering, in some districts, whomever wins the primary will be the presumptive winner in November.  In others, the decisions in the primary will determine whether we finally have a legislature that truly represents the communities we live in.  Women make up over 50% of the population, but have never represented much more than about 25% of the elected officials in the state.  That could change based on the votes cast in the primaries and it is time for voters to finally launch a full throated defense of reproductive freedom at the ballot box.

This May, and again in November, the voters of North Carolina have a choice to make.  This leaked opinion may have been a fire drill, but the point of fire drills is to learn the lesson before it is too late.  We can learn our lesson from 2016 and support progressive women on the ballot.  We can send champions for reproductive freedom and gender equity on to the general election and General Assembly.  As conservatives have for ages, we can finally understand the enormous stakes that each election represents for our rights and our very lives.

Sarah Preston
Executive Director