Democracy in Crisis, Enabling Anti-Abortion Lies and Hampering Medicaid Expansion in North Carolina

| Reproaction

By: Shireen Shakouri

September 11 means different things to different people, and not everyone experiences the same solemnity as I do on the anniversary every year. Some choose not to mark the day at all, but a recent event in the North Carolina state house demonstrates just how far some will go to push a cruel partisan takeover.

On September 11, 2019, lawmakers in the North Carolina House of Representatives were told there would be no votes so members could attend memorial ceremonies, and many did. However, state Republicans stayed behind, pushing through an ‘emergency’ vote to override Governor Roy Cooper’s (D-NC) veto of the budget. [1] In a speech after he left a National Guard ceremony, Cooper let his anger be known:

“For a decade, this Republican legislature elected by unconstitutional means has used tricks and bullying to starve our public schools and deny healthcare to half-a-million working North Carolinians … They used lies, bribes, and illegal districts because their policies damage our state and can’t pass on their own merit. Today, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11, while the state was honoring first responders, Republicans called a deceptive surprise override of my budget veto.” [2]

For months, Reproaction and Campaign for Accountability have been calling on North Carolina lawmakers to get the anti-abortion fake clinic chain Human Coalition out of the state budget. Over several years in North Carolina, Human Coalition has spent hundreds of thousands of state taxpayer dollars to push anti-abortion faith-based ‘counseling’ and other services with minimal achievements met and a poor record of reporting their metrics to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. [3] In the current budget, North Carolina Republicans increased Human Coalition’s allotment from $600,000 to $1.2 million, [4] again, for services such as connecting clients to a faith community or offering applications to resources like Medicaid and housing resources that are already state-provided.  The few dozen people they’ve served in this way doesn’t seem to provide the commensurate level of service typically associated with one million dollars in state funding. Not to mention their religious evangelization to clients spits in the face of the ideal to separate church and state. [3, 5] You can learn more about the many ways Human Coalition has gobbled big bucks from North Carolina here.

The veto override failed, as the legislative session adjourned at the end of October without a Senate vote. [6] But North Carolinians still could suffer big, and not just people facing pregnancy: the overhaul of legislative procedure and decency wasn’t all to fund a fake clinic, that was just a side effect. The real goal was blocking Governor Cooper’s attempts to include Medicaid expansion in the proposed state budget, as well as raises for public school teachers. Cooper’s opponents preferred anti-abortion fake clinics and tax breaks for corporations, so they opted to be sneaky and sell out their constituents. [7] North Carolina’s 2019 legislative session closed with uncertainty about the fate of Medicaid expansion in the state, along with the fate of the millions of taxpayer dollars that don’t belong in the hands of fake clinics.

It’s clear this isn’t the will of the people. Constituents spoke out with letters to the editor, [8] local press investigated the possible misallocation of funds, [3] Campaign for Accountability investigated issues with past grants, [10] and Reproaction collected petitioners calling to get fake clinics off North Carolina’s payroll. The fight is at a stalemate for now, but we’re not going anywhere until fake clinic chains like Human Coalition are held accountable for spreading lies, shame, and wasting resources that could go to effectively helping people facing unplanned pregnancy or needing healthcare.

Reproaction is a non-partisan organization that does not endorse or oppose candidates for political office. Views expressed by elected officials quoted in this piece  should not be construed to reflect the stances of the organization.


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