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Lots of reaction to Barbara Holt's Point of View on abortion and morality

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Getting lots of response to the Friday Point of View "Pro-life bills take the moral path" by Barbara Holt, president of North Carolina Right to Life Inc. Here's a glimpse of the feedback, largely unedited. Read Holt's piece here

Barbara Holt’s version of morality is vastly different from that of most North Carolinians. Most of our state’s citizens agree that politicians have no role in the private, complex pregnancy decisions that women make every day. Ms. Holt and her allies have been trying to take away a woman’s reproductive autonomy while saying they have the moral high ground. But the facts say otherwise.

They are pushing a sex-ed bill that lies to kids about the so-called risks of abortion despite the fact that not a single, respected medical organization recognizes a causal link between legal abortion and pre-term births. They also tried to take away access to birth control with a bill to allow employers to refuse to cover contraception as part of an employee’s insurance benefits. Two other bills would seriously reduce access to safe, legal abortion care in this state.

And, perhaps the most mean-spirited attacks of all have come through the budget where the Senate purposefully kicks pregnant women off of Medicaid and eliminates the state family planning program.

Barbara Holt and her ilk want to limit every avenue a woman has to planning her family and ensuring their health and well-being. If these bills pass, maternal and infant mortality will increase, and more children will be born into poverty. Plus, the tremendous gains women have made in the workplace and in education would come to a grinding halt. Where is the morality in that?

Melissa Reed
VP of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Health Systems, Inc.

In her June 21, op-ed “Pro-life bills take the moral path,” Barbara Holt makes a lot of claims about what it means to be pro-choice. While there are too many misrepresentations and inaccuracies by Ms. Holt to possibly address them here, I want to make one thing clear—being pro-choice is a moral position.

At NARAL Pro-Choice NC, we believe that women’s lives matter. We believe that women deserve our respect and our trust to make decisions about their reproductive lives. We believe that all women should have the means and opportunities available to make the decision that is right for them—including the decision to raise a child. We believe that a woman has a right to terminate a pregnancy safely, with dignity. We believe in pregnancy prevention including access to contraception and honest and accurate sex education. We believe that you don’t need to think abortion is the appropriate decision to believe that lawmakers shouldn’t be the ones making it.

So this Monday we will be at Moral Monday, as we are every week, because we believe that women—not politicians—make the best decisions they can for themselves and their families. And there is nothing immoral about that.

Suzanne Buckley
Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina

The recent Point of View by Barbara Holt, from N.C. Right to Life, is a perfect example of why thinking people tend to have a low regard for the anti-choice movement (cleverly, but falsely, self-styled as “pro-life”). Disregard for facts and logic seem to be their stock-in-trade. Why, for example, does Ms. Holt refer to NARAL, Planned Parenthood and other groups as “pro-abortion”? That is plainly and simply false. These groups are pro-choice, not pro-abortion, and there’s a huge difference. NARAL works to reduce the need for abortions, as does Planned Parenthood. Yet, many anti-choice groups are vociferously against birth control, which is (duh!) the best way to reduce abortions.

The “concern” about safety expressed by Ms. Holt is also based on falsehoods. Both surgical and medical (i.e., using drugs, such as the “morning after” pill) abortions are extremely safe, but the anti-choice movement has blown the tiny risks all out of proportion in an attempt to scare women away from having an abortion. Fact is, the risk of death from childbirth is ten times the risk of death from an abortion. Yet, the anti-choice people are not advising women to avoid having babies because it is risky to their health. The pending bill to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital is totally unneeded and is a blatant attempt to make it more difficult for these providers to care for their patients. It has nothing whatsoever to do with concern for the woman. Talk about hypocrisy!

How about Ms. Holt’s claim that the protesters want to impose their morality on others? I beg your pardon, are we now in Wonderland along with Alice and the Cheshire cat? The anti-choice people want the government to impose laws that restrict a woman’s right, along with her family and doctor, to make the best choice for her. Their morality would be enforced by the rule of law, with doctors and women facing jail sentences. We pro-choice people don’t ask anyone to do anything that is against their own beliefs and morals. We say that it is up to you to decide for yourself. You say it is up to you to decide for us.

Finally, Ms. Holt’s claim that the Moral Monday protesters represent a “small minority” is ridiculous beyond belief. Across the US, 70% of people support the right to choose, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. A 2013 Gallup poll reported that 78% of Americans support choice. Small minority, indeed.

Peter Aitken
Chapel Hill


Barbara Holt (op-ed, 6/22) supports legislation that would require physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. This requirement is unnecessary because emergency rooms must accept all patients and the staff physicians can provide appropriate treatment just as they would for a woman having a miscarriage. The need for emergency care after abortion is rare. The risk of dying from an abortion is less than the risk per year of riding a bicycle and under one-tenth that of continuing a pregnancy.

For this reason a hospital-privileges requirement is a catch 22. To receive privileges, most hospitals expect a doctor to admit at least five or ten patients a year, but a doctor who needs to hospitalize that many abortion patients is incompetent and should not be performing abortions.

Stanley Henshaw, Ph.D.


Barbara Holt sits so high on her throne of morality that she cannot understand what happens on the ground at Halifax Mall. The Moral Monday protests go far beyond reproductive rights. The protestors comprise a coalition of people concerned with basic human rights and keeping a safety net for working families and seniors who may need help to survive bad economic times.

Holt’s recent Point of View tries to paint the Moral Monday protesters as extremists. Instead, she reveals herself as an extremist who does not trust women to make the best decisions for their lives, health, families and future. She shows she wants those in government who think like her to tell everyone else how to live.

The protesters hold many views. But they share a trust in people to make the best decisions for themselves, and this requires that we have sound and complete education available, including in the area of health.

Reproductive rights involve complicated issues. Keeping abortion safe, legal and rare or hopefully even unnecessary is a part of those rights.

Perhaps Holt should stop being so judgmental and forcing her own views and get on the ground to talk with the congregation of protesters.

Devon White


In a democracy we cherish our right to express our opinions about issues that are important to us. I support Barbara Holt's right to do this. We disagree. But I hope she also respects my right to articulate my opinions about issues important to me.

I have the honor and privilege to serve as executive director of an organization that is pro-woman – Lillian’s List of NC. We are named after a pioneering woman who first served in the NC General Assembly in 1920 before women could even vote. We proudly recruit, train, promote and support pro-choice Democratic women running for the NC General Assembly and state-wide office. Supporting women’s rights to make their own reproductive health decisions is a value that is important to us. We trust women to make these very personal decisions.

And we are proud to stand with other organizations that are pro-woman.
Women should make their own reproductive health decisions. Women should have access to quality health care, including a safe and legal abortion. Women should be able to send their children to quality public schools. Women should run for public office and serve their communities.

I will continue to work hard so women can have equal opportunities – and they definitely will not be able to do this if they don’t have control of their reproductive lives. And finally, I am glad to live in a county that values the free exchange of ideas.

Carol Teal
Executive Director, Lillian’s List of NC

I'm not certain that Barbara Holt actually read any of the current laws regarding abortion before telling us all how we need to impose her groups views on the everyone. Current law does not prohibit the teachings of S.B. 132; it just doesn't make them mandatory. H.B. 730 is solving a problem that doesn't exist. Under current law, if you do not want an abortion, don't have one. H.B.716 certainly makes sense, but the broad statement about 'millions' of baby girls in North Carolina being killed just because they are girls requires a few more facts than Ms. Holt provided. Finally, S.B. 308 is another way to impede the choice many people need or want to make regarding abortion.

If someone believes as Ms. Holt apparently does, she should not get an abortion. What someone who believes as Ms. Holt does should also not do is impose her beliefs on others. Current law ensures that does not happen. No matter how Ms. Holt spins this, she and her organization want to prohibit myself and others from exercising our legal rights. Current law does not require abortions but it does allow the alternative of one. When was the last time Ms. Holt or anyone in her organization adopted an unwanted child to prevent the abortion they are trying to stop?

Charles R. Schroeder


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Choose Life for the Unborn Boys and Girls.

Has the American Medical Association (AMA) actually made a statement of when life begins. I bring this issue up because I was puzzled to hear not long ago that the American Pediatric Association made a statement that they were for same-sex marriage now if they can make that statement then surely that can make a statement on a Life of the Unborn issue.

Barbara Holt thanks for all you are doing to stop the culling of the unborn. And if anyone is considering an abortion but would like to find an alternative or dealing with Post Abortion Stress Disorder please contact Pregancy Support Services (www.pregnancysupport.org) in Chapel Hill. It’s an organization run by women for women.

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About the blogger

Burgetta Eplin Wheeler is the associate editor of the Editorial pages, responsible for the Other Opinion page. She occasionally writes editorials. She can be reached at bwheeler@newsobserver.com or 829-4825.