NC Values Coalition held a pro-life press conference Monday to mark the 2nd anniversary of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court’s decision ending the recognition of a constitutional right to abortion, giving the discretion back to individual states, came with its ruling in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which centered on a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of NC Values, said that there are 1.7 million people who are known to have lost their lives to abortion in North Carolina, but there may be many more.

She also remarked that North Carolina is a destination state for abortions, with the state having the most liberal abortion law in the Southeast, despite recent changes to the law to restrict elective abortions from 20 to 12 weeks of fetal development.

The General Assembly passed legislation in May 2023 and overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto soon thereafter. The bill became law on July 1.

“The most recent abortion statistics from 2022 show that North Carolina saw a 238% increase in women coming from out of state to have abortions here,” Fitzgerald said.

According to a recent New York Times article, a Guttmacher Institute report showed that in 2023, nearly 12,000 people traveled north from South Carolina and Georgia to North Carolina for abortions.

Fitzgerald also offered some other sobering statistics related to abortion in North Carolina.

Sixty percent of women who have had abortions reported high levels of pressure from numerous sources to have an abortion, while 76% of women say that if their circumstances were different, they would have chosen life instead of abortion. In 2022, abortions went up by 5.7% in the state, with just over 40,000 babies being aborted in an abortion clinic.

She also said that chemical abortions now make up 69% of all abortions, and 92% of abortions are done before 12 weeks of pregnancy.

She added that almost half of all abortions are done on black babies.

Among the guests who spoke at the press conference was Hallie Butts, who had four abortions during her teenage years over forty years ago.

“With much help and assistance from Planned Parenthood, for purely financial purposes, I snuffed out four of my children during my teen years,” she told the crowd. “Abortion, I was told, was a perfectly fine method of birth control. It really is not a baby, I was told, but rather a cluster of cells or a blob of tissue. It was never explained to me the devastating consequences that would follow after having an abortion.”

Butts, who said she received an official diagnosis of post-abortion syndrome from an accredited mental health facility, said the father of her other children coerced her into having the abortions. She was also never given the opportunity to hear about alternatives to ending the lives of her children and is thankful for the important role that pregnancy care centers play today by saving lives and preventing the mental anguish that comes with having an abortion.

Laura Strabley, executive director of Coastal Pregnancy Center, Washington, NC, said they, like other pregnancy centers, offer free medical care, and have licensed medical staff that include an RN, Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), OBGYN, and an MD.

They receive state funding and are accountable to the state through detailed quarterly and annual reports. That funding provides for resources like an ultrasound machine, which recently helped save the life of a pregnant woman who came to them for medical care.

Strabley thanked the legislators who approved the funding that helped pay for the ultrasound machine.

In addition, besides medical care, she said they offer help to women who are navigating the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy in a spirit that is respectful, kind, and professional.

“We offer material items such as car seats, diapers, and other support,” Strabley said. “We refer to adoption agencies when this option is desired. We provide medically accurate information on abortion procedures and fetal development in compliance with North Carolina’s Women’s Right to Know Act so that women are empowered to make an informed decision.”

She again pointed to statistics that highlight that a majority of post-abortive women say if they thought support for another option other than abortion was available, they would have chosen life.

“Women deserve to be informed, not fast-tracked,” Strabley said.

Stephanie Reinhart, Lovelife.org, was 20 years old when she had her first abortion after she felt pressure from the father of the baby, who said they couldn’t afford to have children. She would eventually have two more abortions, leading to more shame and isolation and much worse.

“After my last abortion, I just wanted to die,” she said. “Over 20% of women who experienced abortion will experience thoughts of suicide and may even attempt. They don’t tell you that going in. They lie to you, and they tell you it will all be over soon, and nothing could be farther from the truth because you never forget that you were a mother taking the life of your own child.”

Reinhart also said that a woman who has an abortion is five times more likely to miscarry after having an abortion.

She found her way to a pregnancy resource center in 2013 where they encouraged her to participate in a healing abortion recovery Bible study where she said she was healed by God.

Paige Brydon said a pregnancy resource center helped heal her shattered heart after an abortion at age 24.

An unplanned pregnancy brought her to an abortion clinic owned and run by a Presbyterian pastor. She thought she would be getting some spiritual counseling, but all he told her was that she needed to get rid of the “parasite” inside of her.

She was given what she said was a mind-numbing pill and placed on a table, where a technician started an ultrasound.

“My heart was pounding, Brydon said. “I asked if I could see the monitor, and the tech said you don’t want to see this. Wait, yes, I do. She shook her head no. The room was spinning. She told me not to speak to the doctor. Wait! What? Is this healthcare?”

She next felt an intense burning pain overwhelming her body before the sound and smell of the procedure overwhelmed her, leading her to vomit.

“Where was the freedom I was promised?” Brydon asked. “Where was the “you’ll have your life back” I was promised? That day was filled with sorrow, depression, and hard-heartedness that lasted for decades. Abortion is not women’s health care.”

Former abortion clinic worker Lisa Searle said she received a call from a woman not long after the abortion pill or chemical abortion became legal in the US in September 2000. She had taken the pill and was screaming in pain that she was in labor and was never told that was going to happen.

“Women choosing chemicals to end their pregnancies are often sold the idea that it will be natural,” she said. It will be private and safer than a surgical procedure. Abortion has falsely been advertised as a process that has fewer complications than Tylenol or Advil, is more natural than surgery, and can take place in the comfort and privacy of your own home.”

Now a nurse manager with Heartbeat International, Searle said more than 75% of women have reached out to the abortion pill rescue network within 24 hours of taking the first abortion pill in order to reverse their decision, which they regretted immediately after taking the pill.