I first heard about the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health case in September 2021 and went to a rally hosted by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. It was so empowering to hear from other people about their own abortion experience and ways we can get involved—I dove in head first.
When the Dobbs decision was leaked in May of 2022, a number of reproductive rights organizations and activists, myself included, came together to plan a protest to respond to the eventual overturn of Roe v Wade. At the time, I was unaffiliated with any particular organization but very passionate about the injustices going on.
When the Supreme Court issued their decision in June 2022, a massive crowd of people gathered at Bicentennial Plaza to protest the overturning of Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey. After the protest, the organizers debriefed and decided what to do next — we voted to become the Socialist Feminist Working Group of NC Triangle DSA.
Reproductive Justice guides our work in the Socialist Feminist Working Group. This framework was created by Black feminists and has four core tenets—the right to bodily autonomy, the right to have children, the right not to have children, and the right to parent your children in safe and sustainable communities. We orient ourselves to these principles because they better encapsulate our aspirations and the type of future we want to build rather than what white liberal feminism pushes for. By demonstrating how all systems of oppression inherently bolster one another, this framework connects to and informs our socialism.
One of our first events after the Dobbs decision was a teach-in to educate people on the resources available to them post-Dobbs, the legality of abortion access in North Carolina, and how these bans impact marginalized communities. Due to the chaotic landscape of a post-Dobbs America, after a few months of deliberation and logistical planning, we decided to focus our efforts on anti-abortion centers, which are more commonly known as “crisis pregnancy centers” or “pregnancy resource centers”.
These are Evangelical non profit organizations that originated in the late 1960s in response to the legalization of abortion. Today, many states do not regulate anti-abortion centers, giving them lots of leeway in how they operate. The vast majority of anti-abortion centers in the United States are unlicensed yet provide a small scope of healthcare services—primarily free ultrasounds and pregnancy tests—and are run by volunteers who may or may not be licensed medical professionals. Many anti-abortion centers also engage in unethical practices to deceive, delay, and dissuade people from getting an abortion. Most of these centers have ties to the national anti-abortion organizations that were key players in getting Roe overturned.
April was a busy month for us. We started off the month at the North Carolina General Assembly when the Republicans newly gained supermajority, thanks to Tricia Cotham switching parties, and moved forward on the 12 week abortion ban and the override of Governor Cooper’s veto of SB20. We published a statement on how this bill is only the beginning of the fascistic future the NC GOP wants to see come to fruition by restricting bodily autonomy and standing in the way of all tenets of reproductive justice through funding Evangelical maternity homes and anti-abortion centers.
Also in April, I began giving monthly presentations on the history of anti-abortion centers, how they operate, how to identify one, and what we can do about them. You can view a map of CPCs in North Carolina here. The Socialist Feminist working group also began to plan our pickets at an anti-abortion center in downtown Raleigh.
We do not focus on changing people’s minds about going to an anti-abortion center or harassing their staff and clients. Instead, we go to bring awareness about the deceptive and unethical tactics they engage in by picketing for visibility of passersby, having one-on-one conversations with folks in the area, and providing informational literature and a basket of free supplies for people to take. We’ve held monthly pickets since then with the goal of bringing in the surrounding community and spreading awareness about anti-abortion centers. As a part of providing people with real, tangible resources, we have collaborated with a few reproductive justice organizations and individuals to compile a list of pregnancy and parenting resources.
Despite fighting an uphill battle, it has been very liberating to be involved in this line of work because we’re educating people on the resources that are available, bringing together like-minded individuals who want to help combat the systemic injustices to defend our rights, and ultimately, we’re building community with one another. If you want to get involved, please fill out this form here. If you want to get plugged in sooner, our chapter is also hosting its Fall Mass Meeting this Saturday, September 16th at noon.