Protestors rally against 12-week abortion ban law, pregnancy center


Siri Patterson

Ben Massey (center) speaks to the crowd of protestors. May 14, 2023.

Siri Patterson, Managing Editor

Protestors gathered Sunday in front of The Hope Center for a protest against North Carolina Senate Bill 20, which criminalizes most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

Around 100 people attended the rally, which began at 1 p.m. in the pedestrian and bike lane on Howard Street and continued for over an hour. 

Teresa Plaag, a resident of Boone, said there was not a specific group that organized the event and many local citizens concerned about SB-20 came together to make it happen.

Protestors handed out information sheets to passersby.

Plaag said the bill “limits access to abortion” through new requirements such as three mandatory doctor’s visits with 72-hour wait periods between each one, ambulatory surgical center licenses and the use of ultrasounds and other visuals before the abortion can be performed.  

According to the information sheet handed out by protestors, none of the clinics that offer abortion services in North Carolina have an ambulatory surgical center license, so it is likely most will be closed. 

“Our plan is to hand these information sheets out and get folks to reach out to these Republican senators here who might be able to keep the veto from being overturned because right now, of course, Governor Cooper has vetoed SB-20,” Plaag said.  

Plaag said only one Republican supporting the veto would prevent the law from going into effect July 1. 

On Tuesday the veto was overridden, meaning SB-20 became a bill. 

According to sheets passed out by protestors, The Hope Center is a women’s health clinic that will receive more funding if the veto on SB-20 is overridden. 

The Hope Center released a statement through an email that identified the organization as a “faith-based apolitical non-profit that is privately funded by individuals, businesses, and churches.” 

The statement did not reference the protest, but says that the goal of the center is to promote the well-being of women in a space “away from the noise.” 

“While we make it clear we don’t provide or refer for abortions, we do provide holistic, evidence-based information and education about all pregnancy options,” says the statement. “We employ registered nurses trained in limited OB ultrasound who work under the supervision of a licensed medical director. We also employ licensed clinical mental health counselors.”

Protestors hold handmade signs in front of The Hope Center. May 14, 2023. (Siri Patterson)

Protestors outside of The Hope Center carried signs with phrases such as, “Abort SB-20” and “Abortion is healthcare!” Some people passed out materials for more signs to be made. 

Volunteer marshals of the protest kept people inside the pedestrian and bike lane and off of The Hope Center’s property. 

Speaking through a megaphone at the front of the crowd, one marshall encouraged any and all protestors to share how abortion laws and access to health care have affected them.

Ben Massey, who announced his candidacy for the North Carolina House of Representatives District 93, attended the protest and spoke briefly to the protestors, offering his support and encouraging them to register to vote. 

“A woman’s right to choose is a high priority for me,” Massey said. 

Massey said that the legislation of North Carolina has taken away women’s rights for many years, and he hopes SB-20 does not get overridden by the current legislative body. 

“It’s time for change. It’s time for Democrats to get elected and represent the majority of people in North Carolina and not be ruled by the minority,” Massey said.

Mary Lyons (left) leads protestors in a chant. May 14, 2023. (Siri Patterson)

Mary Lyons, a former App State student, also spoke to the crowd several times, encouraging people to continue to take action and use their voices to fight against SB-20. 

“There’s this misconception that rural, small towns don’t care about rights. They don’t care about people the same way a city might,” Lyons said. “So I really love that this protest and other rallies help us remember that no matter how small the town, no matter how rural the people, people care.”

Sen. Carl Ford, the primary sponsor of the SB-20 bill, was unable to be reached for comment.