Last week’s draft SCOTUS decision to strike down Roe v. Wade dramatically raised the stakes for the 2022 midterm elections overnight, and quickly made clear that the only one way to protect North Carolinians from laws that will get in the way of their ability to make their own health care decisions is to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.

To be clear, this is a draft opinion—it’s not the final word, yet. Abortion is still safe and legal in North Carolina. If confirmed, however, this decision is devastating for the millions of people across North Carolina whose abortion access and control over their own bodies now hangs in balance.

While we have seen the writing on the wall for decades, it is no less devastating, and comes just as anti-abortion rights groups unveil their ultimate plan to ban abortion nationwide. Make no mistake: North Carolina Democrats will continue to fight like hell to protect the right to access safe, legal abortion.

President Biden, Governor Cooper and Democrats are fighting to make sure everyone has the power to control their own bodies, lives, and future. Meanwhile, the reported Supreme Court draft opinion uncovering that conservative justices are set to overturn Roe v. Wade is the direct result of Republicans’ unrelenting war on health care and the right to choose. This weekend, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear that a federal abortion ban could be next.

In North Carolina, everything is on the line. Republican US Senate candidates have made it clear that they will support efforts to restrict reproductive freedom. Last month, Ted Budd confirmed he supports outlawing abortion without any exceptions, not even for rape, incest, or the health of the mother. Last week, Pat McCrory confirmed that he would double down on the draft SCOTUS decision as well, calling Roe v. Wade a “constitutional overreach.” Mark Walker called the decision a “victory.”

The reality is that every single Republican running for US Senate in North Carolina has an anti-choice track record of undermining women’s reproductive health, and if elected to the US Senate, you can count on more of the same.

As a Black woman, it is also not lost on me that while Republican candidates parade around declaring pro-life values, maternal mortality rates are skyrocketing. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women, according to the CDC, and in North Carolina, the preterm birth rate among Black women is 48 percent higher than all other women. The threats to health care are real, and I know that it’s my community who may pay the highest price. This decision would only exacerbate this crisis.

Instead of attacking abortion access, we need a Senator who will prioritize bettering the wellbeing of North Carolinians, especially Black mothers. Ted Budd, Pat McCrory, and Mark Walker have made it clear when it comes to protecting abortion access and expanding healthcare, they will do everything they can to strip away our rights and interfere with a person’s ability to make their own health care decisions.

No matter one’s personal feelings about abortion, we can all agree that it is not the place of politicians to make this decision for someone else. Sometimes the decision to have an abortion is simple. Sometimes, it’s more complicated. Either way, it’s your decision. Each of us should be able to control what happens to our body and have the power and freedom to make personal decisions that are best for our lives and circumstances.

The threats to health care and reproductive rights from the Republican Party are a troubling reminder of the severity of their MAGA agenda and of what’s at stake in 2022. This year, Democrats will take this fight to the ballot box and elect pro-choice Democrats who will ensure the fundamental right to equitable access to abortion and reproductive health care for everyone.

Bobbie Richardson is the Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

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