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Charlotte abortion rights supporters protest decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

Abortion rights supporters gather in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on June 24, 2022.
Claire Donnelly
Abortion rights supporters gather in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on June 24, 2022.

More than 200 abortion rights activists gathered in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center Friday evening to protest the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Some held signs with sayings like “Bans off our bodies” and “Keep abortion safe and legal.”

“If you need to, you can cry,” Tina Marshall, founder of the Black Abortion Defense League, an abortion-rights-supporting group, told the assembled crowd in her introduction. “Go ahead and cry if you need to — if you want to —get it all out. But then I want you to get mad.”

Many members of the group, which was primarily composed of women, shared personal stories or calls to action. The protest was one of many across the Carolinas and throughout the U.S. following the 6-3 opinion issued by the nation’s highest court.

Hundreds gathered on Raleigh’s Bicentennial Mall, The News & Observer reported. Protests were also scheduled in Asheville and in Greensboro.

In Charlotte, Ayanna Perry, a high school social studies teacher, spent time this past school year teaching the landmark Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade. She said her students immediately came to mind when she heard the news.

“My heart sank,” Perry said. “I’ve had students that have had abortions and I’ve supported them through that. I just can’t imagine that being taken away from them when abortion saved many of their lives, gave them opportunities, opened up doors for them.”

Abortion is still legal in both North Carolina and South Carolina as of Friday evening, though some lawmakers hope to enact further restrictions.

Right now, in North Carolina, a patient seeking an abortion must receive an ultrasound and consult with a medical professional 72 hours beforehand. In South Carolina, an abortion can’t be performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless there are serious health concerns, the pregnancy is placing the patient in danger, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

After the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization opinion was issued Friday, South Carolina Republican leaders took steps toward implementing the state’s “Fetal Heartbeat Act,” which would prohibit abortions after cardiac activity can be detected, or around six weeks into a pregnancy. The "heartbeat bill" had previously been blocked and faced legal challenges because of Roe v. Wade.

Republican leaders in North Carolina’s legislature, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, on Friday wrote a letter to state Attorney General Josh Stein, urging him to reinstate the state’s 20-week abortion ban, which courts had previously ruled unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade.

“North Carolinians can also expect pro-life protections to be a top priority of the legislature when we return to our normal legislative session in January,” Moore said in a statement.

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.