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Over 70 Charlotte businesses join other NC companies decrying new abortion restrictions

Over 70 Charlotte businesses joined companies across the state urging lawmakers to reject bills that further restrict abortion and LGBTQ rights in North Carolina.

More than 200 businesses have signed the “Don’t Ban Equality in North Carolina” letter saying abortion restrictions or bans and anti-trans laws are bad for business. The letter was made public Monday with signatures from small and large businesses across the state opposing abortion restrictions or bans and the economic consequences with North Carolina businesses discussing why they oppose bill SB 20 — the controversial plan to ban abortions in the state after 12 weeks in most cases.

The Cookery By Shawn is among the Charlotte-area businesses that signed the letter. White, started The Cookery two years ago and has been a personal chef and caterer for 15 years. The Cookery is a Black, lesbian-owned business, owner Shawn White told The Charlotte Observer.

“The bill is invasive and intrusive of people’s ability to be successful and undertones of keeping individuals successful in North Carolina,” White said. “I think it’s important for everyone to have the ability to do what they set out to do without restrictions to pursue their dreams.”

Other Charlotte-area businesses that signed on to the letter include 760 Craft Works in Huntersville, and CLTCH, Free Range Brewing and Pilot Brewing, Moxie Mercantile and Soul Gastrolounge in Charlotte, and also Summit Coffee in Davidson.

Restauranteur Ashley Christensen speaks Monday, May 15, 2023 during a press conference organized by Triangle business leaders who urged the the General Assembly to abandon its push for an abortion restriction bill.
Restauranteur Ashley Christensen speaks Monday, May 15, 2023 during a press conference organized by Triangle business leaders who urged the the General Assembly to abandon its push for an abortion restriction bill.

Disputes center on abortion restrictions

Earlier this month, the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a bill that would make abortions illegal after 12 weeks of pregnancy, adding exceptions of up to 20 weeks for rape and incest, up to 24 weeks for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies and indefinitely if doctor feels the mother’s life is endangered.

It’s part of a wave of abortion restrictions by GOP-controlled legislatures in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade.

On Saturday, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill before a crowd of hundreds of pro-choice demonstrators, However, the super-majority Republicans have in the Legislature vowed to override Cooper’s veto.

Several North Carolina CEOs who signed the equality letter met in Raleigh Monday, saying businesses will choose to locate in other states and festival organizers will cancel plans if the state bans abortion after 12 weeks, The Raleigh News & Observer reported.

The General Assembly plans to vote Tuesday on whether to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 20.

How an abortion ban and anti-LGBTQ bills hurt NC

Abortion restrictions and anti-LGBTQ bills could harm North Carolina’s workforce, said Leia Charnin, psychologist and owner for ChangeWell Psych in Charlotte.

“Even the perception of discrimination can increase people moving to different jobs and effect the perspective of work in North Carolina,” Charnin told the Observer.

Charnin is part of the Charlotte Trans Healthcare Group dedicated to improving healthcare for transgender and gender-diverse groups.

She said further restricting health care access for women and LGBTQ community members creates anxiety and fear in the workplace, and make it hard to focus on the job. The result could be more people moving out of state, threatening North Carolina’s economy with fewer job applicants, Charnin said.

“It’s important to feel safe to go to work and keeping jobs in North Carolina,” Charnin said. “The perception of discrimination is distressing to employees.”

The HB2 bill cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars and more than a thousand jobs before its ultimate repeal, the ‘Don’t Ban Equality’ leaders said Monday, the News & Observer reported.

In 2016, House Bill 2 prohibited local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances, particularly in Charlotte which had allowed people to use public restrooms based on their gender identity. The bill was viewed as discriminatory toward the transgender community and led to protest cancellations such as Bruce Springsteen concerts and the NCAA basketball championship games.

What the ‘Don’t Ban Equality’ letter says

The “Don’t Ban Equality” letter urges North Carolina lawmakers to stop add//bills that ban reproductive healthcare and

“Public policies that restrict reproductive health care and discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people go against our values and are bad for business and for North Carolina,” the letter states. “We encourage each of you to weigh the costs of extreme, dangerous legislation to our economy, and we ask you to take action to stop any bill that further restricts reproductive health care or discriminates against LGBTQIA+ people.”

Don’t Ban Equality is a coalition of more than 800 businesses that formed in 2019. The letter mirrors a National Don’t Ban Equality statement.

The group believes restricting reproductive healthcare negatively affects equality and inclusiveness in the workplace, hinders talent recruitment and effects the well-being of workers, communities and the economy, according to the group’s website.