Planned Parenthood announces $10 million voter campaign in North Carolina for 2024 election

RALEIGH, N.C. — Abortion continues to be a key part of Democrats’ election playbook in North Carolina, which for 2024 will include what abortion-rights advocates call an unprecedented investment in get-out-the-vote efforts.

Planned Parenthood affiliated groups in North Carolina announced on Thursday a $10 million campaign in the state that largely focuses on persuading people concerned about narrowing abortion access to vote in November.

The spend, according to representatives for Planned Parenthood Votes and Planned Parenthood Action PAC North Carolina, attempts to end both a GOP supermajority at the General Assembly that enacted new abortion limits last year and to defeat Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson, who wants the law to become more restrictive.

The $10 million marks the largest campaign investment ever made by Planned Parenthood entities in North Carolina, Planned Parenthood Votes spokesperson Emily Thompson said.

“Our goal is clear: To protect abortion access in North Carolina, we must ensure voters know abortion is on the ballot this year,” Thompson said at a news conference near the state Legislative Building.

The money will pay for digital advertising, phone-banking, mailers and media programming on college campuses. It will also support Planned Parenthood’s canvassing goal of knocking on 1 million doors in the state before the election, Thompson said.

Most campaigning efforts will be focused in New Hanover, Wake, Mecklenburg and Buncombe counties as part of its larger statewide strategy, Thompson said. The four counties were chosen in part because of Planned Parenthood’s health services in those regions and ongoing organizing.

The GOP-controlled state legislature passed a 2023 law over Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto that tightened the state’s ban on most abortions from after 20 weeks of pregnancy to 12 weeks, with additional exceptions.

“These legislators have had no regard for us, our rights or our freedoms,” said Emma Horst-Martz, a Planned Parenthood organizer. “They’ve shown us what’s in store if they are the ones to decide our futures.”

Several speakers Thursday mentioned specifically Robinson’s past comments on abortion. Horst-Martz called him the “worst offender in attacks on abortion.”

Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein — who is also running for governor and is a strong abortion-rights supporter — and his allies have said that comments from Robinson show he wants a complete abortion ban.

Robinson’s campaign has said that he supports an abortion ban after roughly six weeks of pregnancy — which is before many women know they are pregnant — with some exceptions. Robinson spokesperson Michael Lonergan said Thursday that abortion supporters were “recycling their same old playbook” that was destined to fail and labeled Democrats’ abortion agenda as “extreme and out of step with our state’s values.”

Along with a focus on defeating Robinson in November, Thompson said the groups will also aim toward 16 state legislative races to break the Republican supermajority in both legislative chambers.

A few weeks before the 2022 election, Planned Parenthood’s affiliates announced a $5 million investment to influence more than a dozen legislative races to attempt to preserve Cooper’s veto power.

In the November 2022 elections, Republicans initially fell one House seat of holding veto-proof majorities in both General Assembly chambers. But they reached the threshold in April 2023 when then-Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham switched to the Republicans. That led to changes in response to the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.


Associated Press writer Gary Robertson in Raleigh contributed to this report.

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