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5 Things to Know: NC GOP Leaders Call to Reinstate 20-Week Abortion Ban

...and four more stories from June 19-25, 2022

A woman at the rally for abortion rights stands in a crowd holding a sign that reads "Not your body, not your life, not your choice.:"
Pro-choice protesters gathered outside of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on Friday evening to rally for abortion rights. (Photo by Justin LaFrancois)

NC GOP Leaders Call to Reinstate 20-Week Abortion Ban

Following the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, allowing state legislatures to pass their own rules regulating abortion, Republican leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly sent a letter to Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein demanding that he reinstate a state law that banned nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

A federal judge struck down the 20-week ban in 2019, extending the limit to fetal viability (24-28 weeks), following a ruling in Bryant v. Woodall that barred the enforcement of the ban. In Friday’s letter, which can be read here, NC Senate President Phil Berger and Speaker of the House Tim Moore stated that, because the legal underpinning of the Bryant court’s injunction was now “erased,” they expected Stein to lift the injunction barring enforcement of the ban. 

The letter warned that, if no response is received by July 1, the NC GOP leaders “stand ready to take the necessary steps to restore North Carolina’s abortion laws to where they were before Bryant struck them down. 

Meanwhile in Charlotte, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on Friday evening to protest the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade before marching peacefully through the streets of Uptown. 

“We have to organize, we must organize…” said Tina Marshall, founder of Black Abortion Defense League, who organized the event. “If you don’t like who’s running, then run yourself.”

A group of people stand around before the rally for abortion rights begins.
Pro-choice protesters gathered outside of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center on Friday evening. (Photo by Justin LaFrancois)

Also speaking at the event was Calla Hales, owner of A Preferred Women’s Health Center (APWHC) in east Charlotte.

Hales, who also spoke at a press conference with local Democratic congresswomen Alma Adams and Deborah Ross on Friday, called the Supreme Court illegitimate and called the United States “a country that is becoming a nation of conservative Christofascism.”

After stating the many reasons she had to be enraged over the decision and the political climate surrounding it, Hales said, “Tonight I’m reminding us all that this is not the moment to lose ourselves in our heartbreak. There is too much at stake to lose ourselves in the oblivion of grief. Instead, it’s the moment to lose ourselves to rage and let it radicalize us. Our personal rights, our freedoms and our lives are at stake.” 

NC Sports Betting Off the Table for Now

After a dramatic (and confusing) series of votes in Raleigh on Wednesday night, the NCGA shot down a law that would have legalized sports betting in North Carolina. After the NC House approved a bill that would have legalized sports betting by just one vote, 51-50, a follow-up vote on a bill that would have needed to pass to activate the first bill failed by the same margin.

For now, as lawmakers in support of the bills contemplate how to move forward, sports betting remains legal in the state only in certified casinos such as Harrah’s in Cherokee and Two Kings in Kings Mountain.

Sheriff’s Office to Shut Down Juvenile Facility

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that it will discontinue operating the Mecklenburg County Juvenile Detention Center (MCJDC) effective Dec. 1, when its current three-year agreement with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) concludes.

According to a release on Friday, MCSO outlined in its recent budget submission to Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio “that juvenile detention operations are not a statutory-mandated service that MCSO has to provide and had to be considered for reduction to prioritize office mandates given the loss of revenue because of the depopulation efforts recommended by the State after inspections that found staffing at the Detention Center Central inadequate to operate that facility.”

Not mentioned in Friday’s release: a lawsuit filed in April in connection with the suicide of a juvenile at the facility in November 2020 claiming that staff falsified documentation of when and how often they checked on the boy.

All juveniles currently housed at the MCJDC will be transferred to other NCDPS juvenile detention facilities in the state.

Environmental Groups Release Troubling Natural Gas Report

On Thursday, the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG) Education Fund, Environment North Carolina, and Frontier Group released a new report finding that, from 2010 through nearly the end of 2021, almost 2,600 gas pipeline incidents occurred in the United States that were serious enough to require reporting to the federal government, 850 of which resulted in fires and 328 in an explosion, killing 122 people and injuring more than 600.

“For as long as we have used methane gas to heat and cook in our homes, it has posed a risk both to people who heat their homes with it and those who live in neighborhoods above gas pipes,” said Katie Craig, director of NCPIRG Education Fund. “House explosions and leaking pipelines aren’t isolated incidents — they’re the result of an energy system that pipes dangerous, explosive gas across the country and through our neighborhoods. It’s time to move away from gas in this country and toward safer, cleaner electrification and renewable energy.”

The total costs to communities from things such as property damage, emergency services, and the value of intentionally and unintentionally released gas totaled nearly $4 billion, with North Carolina being among the top 10 states with the most costly damage.

One Killed in Uptown Shooting

One person was killed and another injured in a shooting that occurred in Uptown at around 9 p.m. on Friday night. According to CMPD, officers originally responded to the area of the Charlotte Transit Center and found two gunshot victims, one of whom was pronounced dead on the scene. The other was transported to the hospital by Medic with serious injuries.

CMPD later said they believe the shooting took place on West Trade Street near Johnson & Wales University and the victims, who have not yet been identified, drove to the area where they were found. 

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