Planned Parenthood pours $5M into vital North Carolina races

Oct 6, 2022, 12:09 PM | Updated: 12:35 pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Planned Parenthood’s political arm announced a $5 million investment Thursday in North Carolina’s battleground races as Democrats fight to preserve the governor’s veto power in one of the last abortion access points in the Southeast.

Just 32 days from Election Day, with absentee voting now underway, Planned Parenthood Votes and Planned Parenthood Action PAC North Carolina are targeting 14 legislative swing districts with ads, mailings, phone banks and canvassing. The investment is part of an existing $50 million national campaign to protect reproductive rights in nine target states — the largest-ever electoral program in its history.

Abortions are legal in North Carolina until 20 weeks of pregnancy, as of an Aug. 17 federal court ruling. But with Republicans just five seats shy of a supermajority in the General Assembly — three seats shy in the House and two in the Senate — Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s power to veto more stringent abortion restrictions hinges on the November outcome.

As its neighboring states slash abortion access in the months following the June U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, North Carolina has become one of the South’s few safe havens for the procedure.

Emily Thompson, deputy director of Planned Parenthood Action PAC North Carolina, said several of the state’s races play a critical role in cementing access to life-saving care for patients in the Tar Heel state and those traveling from other Southern states where abortion is already banned.

The committee’s chief priority, she said, is preventing a Republican supermajority in the General Assembly by focusing attention and resources on five battleground state Senate races.

“If we don’t elect reproductive rights champions in five key state Senate races, an anti-abortion supermajority will have the votes to ban abortion in North Carolina,” Thompson said. “And if we don’t defend two critical North Carolina Supreme Court seats, we will lose our last line of defense against restrictive state laws designed to rob us of our right to make our own health care decisions.”

In an interview this week, GOP state Senate leader Phil Berger said Democrats’ accusations that Republicans would fully ban abortion in North Carolina if they obtain veto-proof majorities are misguided.

Berger said he is not aware of a General Assembly GOP leader who has said they personally support legislation outlawing abortion outright, with no exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the patient.

“They’ve not been able to point to anybody because it doesn’t exist,” Berger said Wednesday. He recently said he preferred approving restrictions on abortions after roughly the first three months of pregnancy.

House Speaker Tim Moore has said he personally supports restricting abortions once an ultrasound first detects fetal cardiac activity — typically about six weeks after fertilization and before many patients know they’re pregnant.

In addition to state legislative races, Planned Parenthood is funneling resources into North Carolina’s high-profile U.S. Senate contest and two state Supreme Court races, which have become recent magnets for Democratic groups working to protect abortion rights nationwide.

Democrats currently hold a 4-3 majority on the panel, but with two Democratic seats up for grabs this November, Republicans need to win just one to retake control of the high court for the first time in six years. The candidates have largely avoided the topic of abortion, instead pitching themselves as the neutral solution to an increasingly politicized judiciary.

But abortion rights have taken center stage in the intensely competitive U.S. Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump. North Carolina is one of the few states where Democrats have a strong shot at flipping a seat in the narrowly divided chamber, making Beasley’s campaign a crucial component of the party’s plan to codify abortion rights into federal law.


Associated Press writer Gary Robertson in Raleigh contributed to this report.


Hannah Schoenbaum is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on Twitter at @H_Schoenbaum.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


File - Women work in a restaurant kitchen in Chicago, Thursday, March 23, 2023. On Friday, the U.S....

Associated Press

US hiring, unemployment jump in May and what that says about the economy

The nation’s employers stepped up their hiring in May, adding a robust 339,000 jobs, well above expectations.

18 hours ago

(Pixabay Photo)...

Associated Press

Oath Keeper from Arizona sentenced for role in Jan. 6 riot at US Capitol

Edward Vallejo, a U.S. Army veteran from Phoenix, oversaw a “Quick Reaction Force” at a Virginia hotel that was prepared to deploy an arsenal of weapons into Washington if needed, authorities say.

2 days ago

FILE - U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz listens during a news conference, Jan. 5, 2023, in Washi...

Associated Press

US Border Patrol chief is retiring after seeing through end of Title 42 immigration restrictions

The head of the U.S. Border Patrol announced Tuesday that he was retiring, after seeing through a major policy shift that seeks to clamp down on illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border following the end of Title 42 pandemic restrictions.

3 days ago

FILE - President Joe Biden talks with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., on the House steps as...

Associated Press

House OKs debt ceiling bill to avoid default, sends Biden-McCarthy deal to Senate

The House approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package late Wednesday, as President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy assembled a bipartisan coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans against fierce conservative blowback and progressive dissent.

3 days ago

Sean Bickings (Family Photo via city of Tempe)...

Associated Press

Family of man who drowned last year in Tempe Town Lake files wrongful death lawsuit

The family of a man who drowned in Tempe Town Lake a year ago filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city Wednesday, noting that its police department doesn't have a policy requiring officers to go into the water to save someone.

3 days ago

(Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Associated Press

Florida police search for 3 gunmen who wounded 9 at crowded beach on Memorial Day

Police are responding to a shooting near the beach broadwalk in Hollywood, Florida.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Planned Parenthood pours $5M into vital North Carolina races