First and foremost: abortion is still legal in North Carolina. North Carolinians can make decisions about their own bodies without government interference, thanks in part to Governor Cooper’s recent executive order

We’re not out of the woods yet, though. Jenny Black, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic, explained in a recent statement: “…[O]ur reproductive freedom is hanging by a thread. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has paved the way for state lawmakers to pass an all-out ban as soon as next year.” 

I spoke with local pediatric and neonatal nurse practitioner Andrea Biondi about what North Carolinians can do next. Biondi has over twenty years of experience both in practice and teaching at the graduate level. 

1. Vote.

“There’s a real threat of the criminalization of abortion and our loss of access to contraception in North Carolina if we don’t maintain or expand our seats in the General Assembly,” Biondi said. The midterm election is November 8, 2022 with one-stop early voting beginning on October 20. Be aware when making your voting plan that early voting ends on November 5 at 3 pm.

For information on voter registration, polling places, and more frequently asked questions, click here.

2. Talk with Your Doctor About Long-Acting Contraceptives

“If you’re not considering becoming pregnant in the next 3-5 years, consider a long-acting implanted contraceptive,” such as an IUD or implant, Biondi recommends. These contraceptives are over 99% effective with no chance of making a mistake, such as forgetting oral contraceptives or breaking a condom.

Biondi says it’s important that teenagers consider these methods, as well. IUDs are as safe for teenagers as they are for adults. With fluctuating state laws as well as the set-it-and-forget-it nature of the implant, they’re an excellent way to prevent pregnancy in teenagers and young adults. “[Long-acting reversible contraceptives are] recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as a first-line contraceptive choice for teens. LARC does not increase the risk for infection or infertility.”

Make your appointment sooner rather than later, she warns. Slots are already filling up quickly and may be difficult to obtain if you wait too long. The side effects are minimal and include temporary cramping and spotting, which usually go away within the first few months. 

3. Get Plan B

In the meantime, keep Plan B on hand. Plan B is a safe and effective emergency contraceptive with a shelf life of four years. If you or a loved one is at risk of becoming pregnant in the next four years, have this over-the-counter option at the ready. 

Drew Perales via Unsplash

4. No, Really – VOTE

Midterm elections don’t see as much turnout as presidential election years, which could be deadly in North Carolina. “If we lose the [NC General Assmbly] seats needed to prevent a veto-proof majority we are completely screwed in NC and the GOP will make abortion a crime.  We have to vote in huge numbers in November to prevent this from happening,” Biondi wrote in a recent Facebook post. 

“If we don’t keep enough seats in the NC house and Senate, not only will abortion become criminalized, contraception is likely going to be harder to obtain, forget Plan B.”

The Carolina Abortion Fund

5. Support Planned Parenthood and Carolina Abortion Fund

If you’re able, consider a recurring monthly donation to Planned Parenthood and the Carolina Abortion Fund. Both organizations have the education and resources to connect folks with the services they need. Even $5 a month can make a difference. 

The Carolina Abortion Fund operates a confidential, toll-free helpline that provides financial, practical, and emotional support to callers in North and South Carolina trying to access abortion care. Along with a message imploring all of us to breathe, the CAF published a statement on the day of Roe’s reversal that read, “We will continue to fight to keep care legal and accessible. We believe no one should be forced to travel to receive medical care. And if either state implements additional abortion restrictions, we will update you on actionable steps and continue to coordinate care–no matter what.”

We have an obligation to take care of each other. Support local events (we’ll be posting and sharing liberally: submit yours here) and get educated about your options. 

I’d like to sign off more optimistically but this is the best I can do. Be gentle with those that deserve it and fucking fierce with those that don’t. 

Gayatri Malhotra via Unsplash