Abortion Restrictions in Florida Could Impact Access in North Carolina

A new law in Florida, set to take effect on May 1, bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. This law may lead to more women traveling to North Carolina for the procedure, resulting in longer wait times at already busy clinics.

North Carolina currently allows abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, making it a sought-after destination for women affected by Florida’s restrictive law.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, North Carolina was already a top destination for women seeking abortions from other states, even after the state implemented its own 12-week ban in 2023.

States like Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas have imposed complete bans on abortion, with only very limited exceptions. Georgia and South Carolina also have six-week bans in place.

Last year, nearly 16,000 women traveled to North Carolina from other states to access abortion services. With Florida now implementing a six-week ban, the number of women seeking abortion care in North Carolina is expected to increase significantly.

Clinics in North Carolina are already facing long wait times, averaging about two weeks. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic is working to expand capacity and add appointments to accommodate the anticipated surge in demand.

Abortion opponents in North Carolina, like Tami Fitzgerald of the NC Values Coalition, are concerned about the state becoming a destination for abortion seekers. They believe that the state should align with the rest of the Southeast and implement stricter abortion laws.

Abortion Restrictions in Florida Could Impact Access in North Carolina

However, public opinion on abortion restrictions in North Carolina is divided. A recent WRAL News Poll found that respondents were split on whether they would support tightening the state’s abortion laws to restrict abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy.

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Republican leaders have not indicated plans to tighten abortion laws this year, but the issue may come up in 2025. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a GOP nominee for governor, has expressed support for a “heartbeat bill” with exceptions for rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger.

On the other hand, Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General Josh Stein, has pledged to defend women’s rights and freedoms, advocating for their ability to make their own healthcare decisions without political interference.

As the debate over abortion laws continues, women in North Carolina may face challenges accessing abortion care, particularly with neighboring states implementing more restrictive measures.

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