Contraceptives protection pushed by Wake County Democrats



(The Center Square) – Contraceptives protection is being pushed by Democrats in the General Assembly, contending they are critical to family planning and addressing the state’s high rate of unintended pregnancies.

Wake County’s Sen. Lisa Grafstein and Rep. Julie von Haefen held a press conference in Raleigh on Wednesday to highlight what they described as “contraceptive deserts” in North Carolina and bills pending in both chambers aimed at preventing future legislative restrictions, though they conceded there’s currently no effort to do that.

Grafstein pointed to abortion restrictions adopted by 14 states across the country, including North Carolina, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year as the motivating factor to preemptively protect access to contraceptives.

“Not many of us feel confident the rights we do have left will not also be attacked,” she said. “We have introduced (Senate Bill 540) because of the threat states will be empowered by the Supreme Court to limit access or the use of contraception.”

“We … want to codify the protections afforded Roe v. Wade into law, we also want to protect the right to contraception for generations to come,” she said.

Grafstein’s SB540 and House Bill 670, sponsored by von Haefen, states “the right to use contraception implicates the fundamental liberty to prevent pregnancy.

“It is the policy of the State of North Carolina that this State has no legitimate governmental interest in limiting the freedom to use contraception to prevent pregnancy,” the bills read.

HB670 would further require University of North Carolina schools to provide emergency contraceptive pills through vending machines on campus, and appropriate $300,000 in grants to community health centers to provide contraceptives to underserved and uninsured patients.

Both bills have languished in committees since they were introduced in April. Grafstein filed a discharge petition for SB540 on Tuesday in an effort to compel a vote. Von Haefen on Wednesday argued 637,960 North Carolina women do not have easy access to contraceptives, including 12,430 that “live in counties without a single health center that provides the full range of contraceptive methods.” They contend roughly half of pregnancies in North Carolina are unintended.

“These barriers put women already struggling to make ends meet at risk of not being able to access the birth control method that is right for them,” she said.

Wednesday’s press conference also included comments from a medical professional and a reverend in support of the legislation.

No bills to limit contraceptives have been filed in the General Assembly this session, but von Haefen insisted “we have to take action now to protect our rights before it’s too late.”

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