On Monday of this week, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case out of Mississippi challenging that state’s 2018 ban on abortion beyond 15 weeks after fertilization. This news rang alarm bells nationwide because the Mississippi law, as written, is plainly unconstitutional. Judge Carlton Reeves, presiding over the federal court in Jackson, had this to say in blocking the law in 2018:
“The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.”
Legal analysts believe that if the Supreme Court simply planned to apply existing case law, there would be no reason to hear Dobbs at all, because it so clearly runs afoul of controlling precedent. But with the major shift rightward on the court, opponents of choice believe (with some good reason) that their long-sought opportunity to completely ban abortion has now arrived. Anti-choice activists have been engaged here in North Carolina as well, pushing relentlessly to restrict access to women’s reproductive choices and freedoms.
The latest Carolina Forward poll shows, however, that anti-choice activists are fighting an unpopular battle.
A narrow majority of North Carolina voters believe that abortion should be legal “in most or all cases” in our state, including a large majority of Democrats and half of Independents.
Anti-choice activists have pursued multiple avenues in their mission to end legal access to abortion, including convoluted zoning schemes, hospital admissions requirements and even a legal mandate to violate women’s bodies for medically unnecessary procedures. The zeal of the anti-choice lobby to restrict and eventually ban abortion consistently overrides all other “small government” policy priorities.
Yet this approach is also at odds with voters’ clear preferences. By a very large margin, North Carolina voters feel that the government should not be involved in a woman's decisions about her pregnancy:
Abortion is a highly sensitive and delicate topic upon which many good, reasonable people honestly disagree. It concerns one of the most intimate and personal decisions that women and families face. Given the deeply personal nature of this choice, the most reasonable public policy is to let each person face it in their own way without judgment.
Nevertheless, a demonstrable majority of North Carolinians believe that decisions over reproductive choice are theirs to make - not Raleigh’s. That freedom to choose must be respected. It will certainly be defended.