By Maddie Majerus, Former NARAL Pro-Choice NC Intern and Appalachian State University Senior
[January 22, 2015] marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court decision that protects a person’s right to reproductive choice. Deciding when to start a family is one of the most fundamental elements to a person’s autonomy and plays a hugely significant role in shaping the future of their life. I have only ever known a post-Roe society, but just because abortions are legal does not mean they are easily accessible for people in our state who need one.
The debate boils down to legality versus access. Yes, getting an abortion is completely legal in our state and in our country, but our politicians continue to place unnecessary restrictions on abortion, making it complicated for people to get one. Medically unnecessary laws, such as ones that dictate the width of door frames in clinics or that demand a person seeking an abortion receive counseling aimed to discourage them from getting an abortion, do not serve to benefit and support the people seeking abortions; they serve as obstacles for people trying to obtain a legal medical procedure. Many people live hours away from abortion clinics, making it hard or impossible for someone who does not have access to a car, or someone who cannot afford to take a lot of time off work, to travel to a clinic. Imagine if every time you went to the dentist or needed to go to the hospital, you were looking at a six hour round trip. Would you feel as though you had access to that medical care?
On top of that, trying to find a real abortion clinic in North Carolina is tricky. Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) outnumber abortion clinics in our state 8 to 1. CPCs present themselves as medical centers in the hopes of getting people who are looking for abortions in their doors so that they may try to discourage them from getting an abortion. Most do not disclose that they are not medical centers, or that they do not provide abortions. CPCs use tactics, such as telling a pregnant person they are not as far along in their pregnancy as they actually are, making the person think they have more time to make a decision or get money together for an abortion, in an attempt to “run out the clock” on the state’s law on the week limit to which you can get an abortion. CPCs use words and language on their website so that if someone looks up words like “abortion, pregnant, abortion clinic” on an internet search engine, a CPC’s website will pop up, even though they do not offer abortion services or referrals. CPCS misrepresent themselves, and they know it. The Executive Director of my local CPC came to speak at one of my college classes last semester, and he told us, “If you walk into our Center, you’re never going to know we’re a Christian organization, and that’s on purpose.”
I go to school at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and the CPC mentioned above is less than a mile from our campus. This CPC has billboards throughout Boone, banners on the sides of the buses that provide transportation for a majority of ASU students, and even “free pregnancy test” coupons in a coupon booklet put in every student’s on-campus PO box. None of these ads disclose that they are not a medical facility, that they do not perform abortions, or that they do not give abortion referrals. ASU Health Services, which I have used for years and consider to be an excellent establishment, provides zero information on abortions on their website, no materials regarding abortion in their lobby, and when I called asking for information regarding abortion referral, they sent me to the CPC.
This is unacceptable. I should be able to seek healthcare information without worrying about my provider’s ulterior motives. I should be able to access all reproductive choice options without planning a road trip and taking significant time off from work and school. Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision, but our fight for reproductive justice is far from over.
If you are concerned about deceptive advertising on campus that misleads students into believing CPCs offer comprehensive reproductive health care please sign NARAL NC’s petition: bit.ly/StopCPCAds