War on Women North Carolina Edition: Michele Presnell is the New Rick Santorum

Editor's Note: With 39 days left until the presidential election, PolicyMic's Audrey Farber will be posting a daily update on the state of abortion rights in the U.S., covering legislative challenges to Roe v. Wade in all 50 states. So far, we've gotten updates on Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, VermontMassachusetts, Rhode IslandMaine and New Hampshire. Check back in every day to keep track!

While just a few weeks ago, Charlotte, North Carolina was home to the Democratic National Convention — which prominently featured Nancy Keenan from NARAL Pro-Choice America — the state itself is less than fully pro-choice. Abortion has been a hot-button issue in North Carolina for the past few years.

North Carolina

In 2011, Republican state legislators pushed through a bill requiring a 24-hour waiting period, the viewing of ultrasounds, and a lengthy description of the gestational stage of the fetus before an abortion: yet another Women’s Right to Know Act. Governor Beverly Perdue, a Democrat who believes that if Romney wins we are facing a resurgence of coat-hanger abortions in back alleys, vetoed the Women’s Right to Know Act, but her veto was promptly overridden by the Republican-dominated State Legislature. (A judge did block the portion of the law that required women to view the ultrasound.)

Once the bill became law, it joined the state defunding of Planned Parenthood (after which, allegedly, Obama promptly funneled $400,000 into the North Carolina affiliates) and the contentious admission of "Choose Life" license plates into the state registry in the anthology of North Carolina’s legislative war on choice. North Carolina also requires parental consent for minors.

North Carolina is “a state where folks have little patience for the rich man’s tricks,” where old timers are entrenched in love affairs with FDR, and where a tradition of revolution runs rich. Though this would make the state solidly blue by some measures, it means nothing for social issues. In North Carolina, we can’t discount the influence of socially-conservative Democrats whose stance on abortion is more Romney than Roe.

One North Carolinian attendee at the DNC in Charlotte is ideologically against abortion, against marriage equality, and “thinks most law-abiding citizens should be able to own a gun.” But he is more concerned with economic issues: “If I ain’t got no money and no job, abortion and gay rights are going to mean nothing.”

In western North Carolina, out of three districts electing representatives for the State House of Representatives and Senate, only one of the Democratic candidates is openly pro-choice. The other two are anti-abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or health of the mother. Then there is Republican Michele Presnell, a staunchly religious anti-choice politician who believes in Godly omnipotence:

“God made that life, and if you were raped, then I still would not have an abortion. I’d have that child, and if you didn’t want it, there are many places that would take that child. I feel very, very strongly about that.

“They say, ‘Oh what about when the life of the mother is in danger?’ You know what, God can take care of that, too. I don’t believe there’s a situation where if you don’t abort this child, you are going to die too."

Even in the more-urban Winston-Salem area, state legislator wannabes — Democrat and Republican alike — fit the anti-abortion-with-exceptions mold more than not, though most also object to the onerous restrictions placed on women seeking abortions by the 2011 legislations. Planned Parenthood has endorsed Democrat Walter Dalton for governor, since Governor Perdue is resigning at the end of her term. But just as her pro-choice voice could be easily overridden, so too could his.

On the national stage, Republican candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Mark Meadows insists “We need public servants who respect life and our religious freedom,” and accused the POTUS of “requiring all taxpayers to fund abortions.”

Meadows is challenged in his rural Western North Carolina district by Democrat Hayden Rogers, the incumbent’s Chief of Staff who has “proven an effective campaigner,” and the district is expected to be a toss-up. That said, Rogers hasn’t endorsed Obama, so even if he wins this conservative district, it could mean very little in terms of socially liberal policies at the federal level.

As far as social issues go, a blue vote means very little in North Carolina. The state barely went for Obama in 2008, possibly due to a last-minute turnout of young and Hispanic voters. It’s a toss-up as to which candidate will get Tar Heel electoral college votes in November. The Huffington Post has them waffling between yellow and light blue: definitely a state to watch. (And vote in!)

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Audrey Farber

After graduating from some prestigious university somewhere, I worked for academic research, social justice, and arts non-profits in the U.S., Israel, Jordan. I formerly ran a collective blogging project and contributed to Middle East-oriented discussions around the interwebs until I gave up on changing the world. I usually believe in complete social revolution and I make it a point to flout every social expectation I encounter. I do this by living in the Rocky Mountains (for realz) and complaining about tourists, enjoying waffles for dinner, putting easter egg links in my posts, and wishing I was way nerdier. I also like to think I'm the funniest person you've ever met, which may or may not be true. I've also driven across the country by myself more times than I'd care to admit.

MORE FROM

Women beer drinkers finally get the Beer for Her they never asked for

Why drink a rugged manly beer when you can have Aurosa's pink girly beer instead?!

Six months after the Women’s March on Washington, the Resistance Revival has a message for Trump

"Well I/ Went down to the White House and I/ Took back what they stole from me," the Resistance Revival Chorus sang in a Times Square flash mob last weekend.

20 attorneys general write letter urging Betsy DeVos to keep sexual assault protections

The attorneys general reminded DeVos that scrapping Title IX guidance will have a chilling effect on sexual assault and rape reporting rates.

New study suggests high workloads and aging doctor population means looming OB-GYN shortage

Obstetricians and gynecologists are overworked at nearing retirement age — without a younger contingent to replace them.

Why pro-life doctors want the First Amendment to protect their right to lie to patients

Crisis pregnancy centers believe they should be exempt from a law saying they should inform patients about all their medical options, including abortions.

‘Brown Girls’ wants to tell women of color’s stories in all their messy, complicated glory

Creators Fatimah Asghar and Sam Bailey want to let their characters break free of the neat identity categories people are wont to place them in.

Women beer drinkers finally get the Beer for Her they never asked for

Why drink a rugged manly beer when you can have Aurosa's pink girly beer instead?!

Six months after the Women’s March on Washington, the Resistance Revival has a message for Trump

"Well I/ Went down to the White House and I/ Took back what they stole from me," the Resistance Revival Chorus sang in a Times Square flash mob last weekend.

20 attorneys general write letter urging Betsy DeVos to keep sexual assault protections

The attorneys general reminded DeVos that scrapping Title IX guidance will have a chilling effect on sexual assault and rape reporting rates.

New study suggests high workloads and aging doctor population means looming OB-GYN shortage

Obstetricians and gynecologists are overworked at nearing retirement age — without a younger contingent to replace them.

Why pro-life doctors want the First Amendment to protect their right to lie to patients

Crisis pregnancy centers believe they should be exempt from a law saying they should inform patients about all their medical options, including abortions.

‘Brown Girls’ wants to tell women of color’s stories in all their messy, complicated glory

Creators Fatimah Asghar and Sam Bailey want to let their characters break free of the neat identity categories people are wont to place them in.