Leading from the Left

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

2007 Legislative Session--Issues of Choice

Yesterday I indicated that I would be posting this week on the recently concluded Legislative Session. Today, I received an excellent summary of the session from a pro-choice perspective. Melissa Reed, Executive Director of the NARAL-NC emailed out the following summary. I post it below for your information.

Last week the General Assembly ended its 2007 session.

When the state budget passed Monday night, it marked important victories in reproductive health and HIV/AIDS issues. The Women's Health Services Fund, which provides funding for family planning services to uninsured women who are not eligible for Medicaid, received $200,000 in recurring state funds. And, after more than a decade of flat-funding HIV-prevention programs, the budget includes $2 million in new, recurring money to support more programs that work across the state.

In addition to these victories, we commend state Sen. Katie Dorsett for leading the passage of a bill establishing North Carolina's new cervical cancer prevention program, which will help ensure that parents with kids in public and private schools will have access to information about cervical cancer, cervical dysplasia, human papillomaviris and vaccines available to prevent the disease. Sen. Dorsett said it best: "It is our responsibility to make sure that families have the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their children's health. I am confident that this law will help prevent cancer through better awareness and education." Thanks to Sen. Dorsett and all her colleagues who supported this important health-care measure and to Gov. Easley who signed it into law this summer. We are proud of these steps forward, but we know there's more to do.

I'm sad to tell you neither the Comprehensive Sex Ed legislation nor the Compassionate Care for Victims of Rape bill passed. However, your work backing up our lobbying efforts helped us expand our coalition partnerships and increase our legislative allies this session. These bills gained a record number of co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, marking real progress in the support of women's reproductive freedom. And our pro-choice sponsors and leaders have pledged to continue to work with us to keep the legislation on the table.

Legislative Progress

The legislative process can be challenging at times – but it's important to note specific steps forward.

Passage of the comprehensive sex ed bill through the House Health Committee this past spring was a victory in itself. NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and our coalition partners and allies made this happen.

We also helped block 11 pieces of anti-choice legislation. One bill would have allowed pharmacists to refuse to fill birth-control prescriptions; another would have forced a mandatory delay on women seeking abortion care; and an especially cruel bill would have denied health coverage to any state employee seeking abortion care, even if she was a victim of rape or if her life was in danger.

Moving Forward

With the session now over, our focus turns to strengthening our statewide network and building grassroots leadership in preparation for Choice Vote '08. We'll be continuing to reach out in communities large and small to build a base of support to elect more pro-choice leaders who will fight for reproductive freedom and justice.

In addition, we will be working hard to mobilize in communities where pharmacies are blocking access to the "morning-after" pill to encourage them to stock and dispense without delay. We will work with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that Medicaid includes coverage for women who need over-the-counter emergency contraception.

These victories and major steps forward would not have been possible without the support of our activists and donors. Your phone calls, visits, and emails to legislators and your kind and generous gifts made it possible and are greatly appreciated. With your continued support, we will continue to promote and protect reproductive rights in North Carolina!

For reproductive freedom,

Melissa Reed
Executive Director
NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina