Article by: Diya Chadha

On Monday, October 14, two women empowerment and health-focused student groups, Planned Parenthood Generation Action and Empower Her Voice, partnered with NARAL-NC, a pro-choice advocacy group to host a reproductive health panel on campus at the Freeman Center.

Lynne Walter from NARAL-NC, Dr. Jonas Schwartz from Duke University Hospital, Gloria de los Santos from The Action Network, and Dani Hoffpauir from Planned Parenthood answered a series of moderated questions on the topics of the Hyde Amendment and the rising influence of pregnancy crisis centers/clinics in North Carolina. Two specific points that they brought attention to were the amount of funding directed from the state towards such emergency clinics and the subsequent negative impact that the clinics have on the healthcare options available to women, as well as the evolving narrative around the idea of abortion and healthcare access in the changing domestic political climate.

In the state of North Carolina, crisis pregnancy centers receive nearly $1.3 million in state funding, much of which has been diverted from funds lost under the domestic gag rule. This funding is compounded by Pro-Life and religious groups aiming to prevent as many women as possible from accessing such reproductive healthcare. Categorized as abortion clinics on search engines, these clinics draw in women looking both to learn more about pregnancy termination, as well as those who have already decided that that is what they’re looking. Problematically, women will arrive at these centers, only to be bombarded with anti-abortion propaganda and misinformation about the risks of the procedure. The harm here is evident, and is only being made worse by that second emphasis of the panelists: the troubling way that abortion as a form of healthcare is viewed today in the United States. Specifically, they felt that political rhetoric has emboldened pro-life groups financially; as more and more Planned Parenthood centers and abortion clinics close down due to lack of funding, crisis centers pop up to replace them.

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