Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order July 6 that will protect reproductive freedom and abortion access in North Carolina. The order comes after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the federal constitutional right to abortion June 24. 

Cooper was joined by president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Alexis McGill Johnson and state reproductive care advocates. 

“The Supreme Court ripped away the constitutional right to reproductive freedom that women have relied on for five decades,” Cooper said. “For now, it’s up to the states to determine whether women get reproductive health care, and in North Carolina they still can.” 

Under the order, abortion patients and providers will not be penalized or criminalized for providing, receiving or inquiring about reproductive health care services in North Carolina, no matter their state of residence.  

“All cabinet agencies shall coordinate with each other and pursue opportunities to protect people or entities who are providing, assisting, seeking, or obtaining lawful reproductive health care services in North Carolina,” the order said. 

As other states across the nation impose restrictions and criminal or civil penalties on those who provide reproductive health care services, the order said North Carolina will be a critical access point for people in the Southeast. 

“Research demonstrates that unnecessary restrictions and bans on reproductive health care rights have harmful consequences on people’s health, safety, and economic stability,” the order said. “Unnecessary reproductive health care restrictions disproportionately impact people of color, people with disabilities, people with low incomes, and people who live in rural areas.”