Stop blaming (and shaming) women:

Hold these men responsible for their decision:

On March 12th, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners (shown above) voted unanimously to turn down a state family planning grant that would have covered contraceptive supplies and other services related to family planning. This grant had no strings attached, had nothing whatsoever to do with abortion and could have been used by New Hanover County to pay for contraception at county health clinics. 

Why did they turn this money down? Chairman Ted Davis (at left) said he thought it was a sad day when “taxpayers are asked to pay money to buy for contraceptives” for women having sex without planning responsibly. Davis then added:

“If these young women were responsible people and didn’t have the sex to begin with,
we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

We are big fans of taking responsibility at Progress North Carolina. That’s why we believe the New Hanover County Commissioners should be held responsible for this decision. We urge the citizens of New Hanover County to ask their Commissioners the following questions at the next County Commissioner meeting and to insist that their answers be read into the public record:

1) Why are you funding condoms in your county health budget? Why aren’t you judging men as being irresponsible for having sex?  

2) How do you expect women to “plan responsibly” if they do not have access to contraception? What should women do so that they can meet your standards of responsible family planning? 

3) How does New Hanover County intend to pay for the children born because of a lack of access to contraception? Most will be born into poverty level. Will you pledge personally to support these children? Will they be covered by public assistance? Don’t taxpayers foot the bill for that?

Join Progress North Carolina in holding the New Hanover County Commissioners responsible for their decision. Don’t let North Carolina’s elected officials get away with blaming (and shaming) women as an excuse to cut public programs they don’t like. Sign our petition below below and send this URL to every resident of New Hanover County you know so that their local officials are forced to go on record with their answers to these questions. Thank you!


The far right shame game comes to NC

For months, we’ve noticed a growing willingness on the part of far right lawmakers to implement government policies that reflect their ultra-conservative view of women. We’ve seen it happen here in North Carolina and on the national stage. Efforts have been mounted to limit access to contraception, to cut programs that provide vital healthcare to women and to cripple Pre-K and other programs near and dear to women’s hearts. This week, the New Hanover County Commission even turned down nearly $9,000 in no-strings-attached federal money because it was going to be used for contraception, with Chair Ted Stevens saying, “If these young women were responsible people and didn’t have the sex to begin with, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Whether the far right is shaming women on purpose as an excuse to cut programs they don’t like or these attacks on women’s rights are inadvertant by-products of their ultra-conversation world view is immaterial. What matters is this: If you want to preserve the rights of women in our state and country, the time to take action is now. Sign our petition, visit our Take Action section for more you can do and be sure you are on our mailing list so that we can let you know when the time to take more action is here.

The women of North Carolina fought long and hard to win the right to be equal citizens and they have have been crucial to our state’s success ever since. Let’s not go backwards now.
Stand for women with us.

Forcing their far right beliefs about women on us all

Today is the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Progress North Carolina is joining other bloggers across the nation in standing up for the broader right of women to decide when and if they have children. The far right in North Carolina has enthusiastically jumped on a national band wagon to not only take away a woman’s right to choose, but to limit her access to contraception. (See the chart below for a scary summary of this movement.)

By taking away our family planning options, they are taking away our right to control our own lives. They are imposing their fundamentalist belief that women are subordinate to men on all of us and using government money to force women to adhere to this belief.

In less than a year, they have crippled North Carolina’s abortion law, intruding into the personal lives of women not to mention their relationships with their doctors. They have defunded Planned Parenthood, limiting contraception services to women who do not have access to other health options or who cannot afford to go to a doctor. They authorized the sale of an anti-choice official license plate, with the proceeds going to organizations masquerading as health clinics when, in reality, they are fake medical facilities staffed by anti-abortion extremists using public money to pressure women to give up their legal right to choose.

The right to plan when and if you have a family is the absolute foundation of equality for women. Without that right, our choices in life shrink to a handful of options.

Do not believe the far right when they insist that their actions are driven by opposition to abortion and a respect for life. If they were truly opposed to abortion, they would fund Planned Parenthood and praise it for its ability to prevent untold millions of abortions through responsible use of contraception.  If they truly respected life, they would not have slashed public social programs in North Carolina that keep children from going hungry. Nor would they have attacked public education, seriously damaging the only option poor children have to lift themselves above grinding poverty. The truth is that they are doing this because they subscribe to the belief that women are subordinate to men and they want to force that belief on you using their power over government policies.

We must make choice and women’s quality healthcare key issues in this year’s campaign. We must elect legislators to our state government who respect the right of women to shape their own lives. Don’t let the conservative far right limit our rights and the futures of North Carolina’s women. If these lawmakers can’t trust women to make up their own minds about when and if to have children, they don’t deserve your vote.

For more on the national and statewide conservative movement now threatening women, visit and read this excellent blog post by Leah Josephson of Lillian’s List of NC.

anti-choice politics graphic.jpg

Since when does the government get to control my eyes?

While I was sitting around this summer feeling sorry for the people of Wisconsin because their states were clearly under the control of some pretty kooky rightwing extremists, a rude awakening landed on my doorstep: apparently frustrated with their inability to tell me what to do with my womb, rightwing lawmakers right here at home in the NC General Assembly rammed through a law ─ and then overrode the Governor’s veto of it ─ that requires women requesting an abortion, as is their right under the law, to view an ultrasound before the procedure can be performed. If they avert their eyes during the procedure, they must sign a statement saying that they chose to look away. This statement is kept in their medical records for seven years.
Let’s take a moment to think about this. The legislators who voted for this bill believe they have a right to control my body parts, even when I am engaging in lawful activity.

AbortionLawImageThe requirements are as ridiculous as they are intrusive. What do you do when a woman refuses to go along? Do you throw her in jail? What if the doctor drops his pen and misses the all-important moment when the patient’s eyes may or may not move? How about if the woman is wearing sunglasses indoors? Or what if the patient is blind? How exactly do we enforce the law then?

By the way, it’s not just your eyes being ordered around by the new law.
A woman is also required to listen to a description of the ultrasound and a state-sponsored script about alternatives to abortion, must sign a document saying that she understands she is terminating the life of a “unique human being” and wait 24 hours before returning for the procedure.

This bill does everything but tie the woman down and force her to listen to an anti-choice sermon – because that’s the whole point of it. Unable to criminalize abortion, lawmakers in North Carolina decided to impose as many restrictions as possible on a woman’s right to choose, many of which infringe on her basic rights as a citizen.

Let’s be clear about this: you may be opposed to abortion. Many people are. If you are, then by all means, don’t have one; put your time and money toward providing desperate women with alternatives; or, better yet, throw money at Planned Parenthood, instead of trying to defund it, since they prevent more abortions than any other organization in the world. But don’t try to cripple a woman’s right to choose by infringing on even more of her rights.

This bill is going to prove to be a headache and an expensive mess and will do nothing more than make women in a miserable situation even more miserable. And I see a bigger problem here: if lawmakers believe that they have the right to control our eye muscles when we are engaging in a legal activity, then there is no end to their sense of entitlement. Or their arrogance. There will rightfully be legal challenges to this bill (similar laws are already being challenged in other state courts) and the people who rammed the NC bill through knew it would face challenges when they did so. That means they were perfectly willing to expose our state to what could easily be hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees simply to pander to their base. That makes them dangerous, both to our civil rights and to our state’s budget.

For now, as I see it, our only defense is to borrow a page from their play book: do not take your eyes off the far right legislators who have seized control of the NC General Assembly. Do not avert your eyes from them ever. These people are zealots of the worst kind and their more moderate brethren have shown no inclination to rein them in. Let them know that we are watching them. Very, very closely.

What You Can Do About It:

Join NARAL’s NC chapter and help them fight to preserve a woman’s right to choose.

If you are a patient or a doctor and this law concerns you, please call the ACLU at (919) 834-3390 or email them at

Support the ACLU in its lawsuit challenging a law that allows people to buy a special personalized NC anti-choice license plate but does not provide people with a pro-choice license plate alternative (six versions of which were rejected by the legislature.)

Read the text of the bill here

Support Planned Parenthood.