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Where state candidates stand: abortion and women’s health

During the past two years, several keystone issues regarding abortion and women’s reproductive health have been debated at the state level.

The Republican-led General Assembly has attempted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood and passed the Women’s Right to Know Act, which dictates new regulations for receiving an abortion.


Although the law is under review by the courts, its language implemented new protocols such as a 24-hour waiting period for a woman wishing to receive an abortion, a mandatory ultrasound and a state mandated-script detailing alternative options available like adoption.

SEE ALSO: Reproductive health, abortion battles loom

The Smoky Mountain News questioned candidates in this fall’s state races where they stand.

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N.C. House of Representatives, District 119

This seat includes all of Jackson and Swain counties and half of Haywood County (Waynesville and Lake Junaluska area, including Iron Duff).

Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville

“Women’s health is very important — important to the next generation. Children should be wanted and prepared for, and women should be in control of their own reproductive decisions. The legislature should stay out of those personal decisions.

“They have voted to force pregnant victims of rape and incest, if they’re thinking to end the pregnancy, to have unwanted vaginal probes while their doctors describe the fetus. I think that is way out of line for the legislature. It is meddling in a personal relationship between a woman and her physician.”

Queen went on to comment about the controversy over state funding for Planned Parenthood.

“This current legislature’s assault on Planned Parenthood was ideologically driven. It shows that some legislators are willing to throw women’s rights away to curry favor with special interests. I’m not one of them.”

Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City

“It’s very simple. I am pro-life and I believe life begins at conception. I’m a conservative Christian, and I believe what the Bible says, that before we’re born God knows the number of hairs on our head.

“I think there should be stricter standards for abortion clinics, and I don’t think they should be on every street corner. Abortion is too many times being used and abused as a form of birth control — and any abortion clinic is just facilitating a legalized, pre-meditated murder of unborn children.

“I know it sounds hard line, but people need to take more responsibility for their actions. I would not feel bad at all without an abortion clinic in Western North Carolina — or any place at all.”

Clampitt added that it is not the role of government to provide birth control and instead of supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood there should be an emphasis on abstinence education.


N.C. House of Representatives, District 118

This seat includes Madison and Yancey counties, and half of Haywood County (Maggie Valley, Canton, Clyde, Bethel, Cruso, Crabtree and Fines Creek).

Ray Rapp, D-Mars Hill

“As a rule I’m opposed to abortion. However in certain circumstances — rape, incest, where the health of the mother is endangered or where children are involved — it seems to me we need to be open enough to address individual situations.

“For that very reason, I was against the Women’s Right to Know Act. It was hastily crafted and pushed through. It needed to be thoughtfully addressed. So much of this has been passed through simply because they have the votes to do it.

“Part of what I see happening is we have had a number of social agenda items pushed in the past two years in the legislature with so much energy, that the real issues like jobs and education were put on the backburner.

“We need to take a step back and get people from both sides of the aisle to look at the other issues — respectfully.”

Michele Presnell, R-Burnsville

“Abortion under any circumstances is wrong — that’s where I stand. I will not falter on that in anyway.

“God made that life, and if you were raped, then I still would not have an abortion. I’d have that child, and if you didn’t want it, there are many places that would take that child. I feel very, very strongly about that.

“They say, ‘Oh what about when the life of the mother is in danger?’ You know what, God can take care of that, too. I don’t believe there’s a situation where if you don’t abort this child, you are going to die too.

“Imagine if one of the babies were going to grow up to be the scientist that finds a cure for cancer, and you killed him.”

Presnell also made clear her stance on the funding of Planned Parenthood.

“I wouldn’t fund Planned Parenthood a dime, not a nickel, not a penny. I am a woman who will stand up for these other women; some of them cannot get out there and stand up for themselves.”


N.C. Senate, District 50

The seat includes the seven western counties, including Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain.

John Snow, D-Murphy

“My position on abortion is that I oppose abortions except for cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is threatened. I do not know where this position falls in the pro-life and pro-choice controversy.

As to the Women’s Right To Know Act, I approve of the waiting period and the required information on adoptions.”

Snow further explained the benefits of funding an organization like Planned Parenthood and re-iterated that abortions can’t be funded with that government money.

“We must first remember that because of the Hyde Amendment we can’t use government money to fund abortions; Planned Parenthood services are for low-income women; 97 percent of Planned Parenthood services are for reproductive health issues including breast and cervical cancer screenings, contraceptives counseling and parenting classes for teens in unexpected pregnancies.”

Jim Davis, R-Franklin

“I’m not opposed on moral grounds to abortion in case of rape, incest or where the mother’s life is in danger. I understand some people are, but I am not. When I was in the Senate, we passed the Women’s Right to Know Act — that hopefully will reduce the number of abortions by giving her a 24-hour waiting period and she can also be advised that she can look at the ultrasound before she can go through with the abortion. Abortion is not illegal in the United States, and we’re not going to change that with state law, but our role was to reduce the number of abortions.”

Davis defended his support of diverting state funds from Planned Parenthood.

“As for the money that we were sending to Planned Parenthood — Planned Parenthood funds abortions. So, we decided at the state we were going to take the money from Planned Parenthood and gave it to local health departments, for women’s health issues.”

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