At a press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order that will protect reproductive freedom and abortion access in North Carolina.
Planned Parenthood Action President Alexis McGill Johnson, as well as other advocates, joined Cooper.
The executive order comes in response to the United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn the federal right to abortion.
"Politicians should not be in that exam room with a patient and her doctor," Cooper said at the press conference. "I will never back down when women's health is on the line."
The order stated that abortion patients and providers will not be penalized or criminalized for providing, receiving or inquiring about reproductive health care services.
"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 second section of the order said.
These "cabinet agencies" are defined as those that are part of the governor's office or are led by members of the governor's cabinet.
The order noted that as other states impose penalties on those who provide reproductive health care services and restrict access to abortion, North Carolina will serve as 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.
It also emphasized that reproductive health care restrictions disproportionately impact people of color, people with disabilities, and people who live in rural areas.
While the order does not change North Carolina law, it ensures that North Carolinians will keep their current protections and rights.
"We celebrate this action that protects reproductive rights for all North Carolinians!" Equality North Carolina said in a tweet on Wednesday.
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