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Activists rally around healthcare, reproductive rights at Greenville Town Hall


By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Several advocacy groups in North Carolina are holdings meetings to raise awareness of the ramifications of Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, saying that it would lead to an increased need for public support of reproductive rights and general healthcare.

Kavanaugh was nominated by President Trump in July after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he was stepping down. Confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh are scheduled for Sept. 4.

On Tuesday night, about 30 people gathered at the Eppes Recreation Center at a rally organized by various groups, including pro-choice advocates like Planned Parenthood. 

The event included a panel discussion between advocacy professionals and members of the community.

Panel members said that among their concerns regarding Kavanaugh were his views toward abortion, birth control and the Affordable Care Act. 

Jen Ferris with Progress North Carolina, which hosted the meeting on Thursday, said she is concerned that Kavanaugh’s appointment will result in increased difficulty in obtaining health care and could threaten pro-choice policies.

She said that although Kavanaugh has said he respects precedent set by Supreme Court decisions such as Roe vs. Wade, she believes he may work against them.

"He is a politician and so his word may not be his word,” she said. “We may be able to understand his direct answer, which is that's the precedent and the law of the land. But I think other precedent shows he doesn't mind undermining it."

Tara Romano, with NARAL Pro-Choice NC, which advocates for access to reproductive health care in the state, said her issue with the entire situation is that access to health care should not be a policy position.

Romano said the general needs and welfare of the people should transcend partisan platforms. 

“One of the reasons we’re talking about the Supreme Court is because reproductive health care is extremely politicized in this country and it shouldn’t be,” she said. “This something that is really common, but because it’s so politicized it’s become very hard for people to access it.” 

Ferris said that any decrease in access to health care or reproductive rights for the average citizen would worsen an already bad situation.  

“Right now in North Carolina not everyone who has access to health care actually has access to health care,” she said. “For a lot of people, that can feel like a helpless situation but it’s a political situation designed by lawmakers.” 

Though most members of the panel conceded that Kavanaugh’s appointment was likely — due to Republican control of the Senate — Ferris urged attendees to write to their senators and local politicians demanding friendly legislation protecting health care. 

The meeting on Tuesday was only the second of six planned stops in the state. Ferris said organizers will be speaking next in Raleigh and Greensboro. 

Contact Seth Gulledge at Sgulledge@reflector.com and 252-329-9579.