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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Planned Parenthood, the family planning organization often in the maelstrom of the debate about abortion rights, is planning to drop some serious cash in North Carolina’s midterm election.

Planned Parenthood announced that it would spend $50 million to support candidates who advocate for continuing abortion rights, which is projected to be a key motivator for voters in November, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the matter to states to decide.

And in a follow-up release, Planned Parenthood said that North Carolina – and specifically U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley – would be a priority in that spending.

Republican Ted Budd and Democrat Cheri Beasley (WGHP file photo
Republican Ted Budd and Democrat Cheri Beasley (WGHP file photo)

North Carolina is one of 29 states where abortions remain available, although a 1973 law bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Federal Judge William Osteen on Wednesday reinstated the ban, ruling that previous federal rulings became irrelevant because of the ruling about Roe v. Wade.

Beasley, a former chief justice of the NC Supreme Court, is facing 13th District Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) for the seat being vacated by the retiring Republican Richard Burr. Polls have suggested the race is a tossup, with both candidates leading in various surveys.

Planned Parenthood’s release announced its Take Control 2022 campaign to reach about 6 million voters in support of candidates in Georgia, Nevada, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Hampshire, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as North Carolina. It also said other programs would be active in Colorado, Maine, Ohio and Florida.

Planned Parenthood’s release says that “Congress must step up to restore and protect abortion rights so people can access safe, legal, and affordable reproductive health care regardless of their ZIP code. And with an extreme candidate like Ted Budd in the race, it has never been more important for North Carolina voters to elect reproductive rights champions who will protect their right to make their own health care decisions.”

Candidates’ positions

Beasley has embraced Planned Parenthood’s earlier announced endorsement.

“North Carolinians want a Senator who will protect their constitutional freedom to make decisions for their own families,” Kelci Hobson, Beasley’s campaign spokesperson, wrote in an email to WGHP. “As a former judge, Cheri spent over two decades protecting our rights and upholding the Constitution and she will continue to do that in the Senate. But Congressman Ted Budd has worked repeatedly to roll back our fundamental freedoms, including supporting a total ban on abortion, showing how out of step he truly is with what North Carolinians want and need.”

Said Samantha Cotten, comms director for Ted Budd’s campaign, in an email: “Planned Parenthood spent heavily in support of Kay Hagan in 2014 and Deborah Ross in 2016 so it’s not a surprise they would choose to waste their money again on a candidate who can’t win here in NC this year. Cheri Beasley is an extremist who supports abortion on demand for any reason up until the moment of birth and that’s out of step with North Carolina voters.” 

A Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center in St Louis. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

Budd has been firm in his position opposing abortion, saying on his campaign website that he “believes every life is precious and every person is made in God’s image. Science tells us that each of us is unique from conception, and we all have an unalienable constitutional right to life and protection under the law.” He also claims a 100% rating from National Right to Life and Susan B. Anthony List.

Beasley has been just as staunch in her support of what proponents commonly call “reproductive rights.” Beasley’s campaign site says she “supports the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade and protect reproductive rights so that women can get the care they need no matter where they live.”

“Abortion rights are on the ballot in North Carolina, and whomever wins our elections will play a critical role in determining our ability to control our own bodies,” Emily Thompson, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, said in the release. “Planned Parenthood Votes knows what’s at stake for North Carolinians and will invest resources, time, and boots on the ground to elect reproductive rights champion Cheri Beasley to the U.S. Senate.”

Hot topic

An AP-NORC Center poll finds a majority of U.S. adults feel “angry” or “sad” about the Supreme Court’s June decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed abortion rights for nearly 50 years. (AP Graphic)

Planned Parenthood’s announcement did not mention congressional races, but Democrats are in hot races in the 1st, 6th, 13th and 14th congressional districts – the only Democratic incumbent in those is Greensboro’s Kathy Manning in the 6th – and abortion is being ignored by some of the Republicans running statewide.

“In the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned, the Republican agenda to ban abortion is too extreme, too dangerous, and too out of touch for North Carolinians,” Monica Robinson, spokesperson for the DCCC, told WGHP in an email. “From Bo Hines [GOP candidate against Wiley Nickel in the 13th District], who wants to ban abortion with no exceptions, to Christian Castelli [Manning’s opponent in the 6th], who tried to hide his support for an abortion ban by deleting it from his website, they’re going to answer for their attacks on women’s rights and health at the polls this November.” 

The Associated Press said its recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research “found a majority of Americans think Congress should pass a law guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide. More than half of the respondents said they feel at least somewhat “sad” or “angry” about the Supreme Court’s decision.”

Polls consistently have shown Americans prefer some access to abortion, and that has appeared to have heightened since the court’s ruling. A recent ballot referendum in Kansas also showed overwhelming support for access to abortion and rallied supporters nationally. Before then North Carolinians also wanted to maintain abortion options.

Planned Parenthood told The AP that its plans include reaching those 6 million voters by knocking on doors, phone calls, digital ads, mail-out campaigns and radio ads. AP said it has run some TV ads in Wisconsin.