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Fate of abortion access in North Carolina could hinge on midterm elections

Abortion on voters' minds in North Carolina
Abortion rights are on top of voters' minds in North Carolina 03:04

In the last few months, North Carolina has become a haven for abortion access in the south. It is one of the few states in the region that has not restricted it since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Abortion is legal in North Carolina up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.  

Kelly Flynn runs a woman's choice clinic in Raleigh, which has been flooded with calls. She said the number of calls they receive a week from out-of-state residents has doubled recently.  

Before the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the longstanding Roe v. Wade, 35% of the patients at Flynn's women's clinic were from out of town. But now, with neighboring states like South Carolina restricting or banning abortion, Flynn said that the number stands at 56%. 

"We just helped a patient from Alabama last week. They drove a 10-and-a-half-hour trip to make sure they were at the clinic at nine o'clock that morning," Flynn told CBS News. 

For some Democratic voters, the issue of abortion access is critical for them coming out and voting in next month's midterm elections. 

"I have friends who are opening their doors to people in border states who can't have a safe and legal procedure. So, you just pray it doesn't happen here but it's definitely a real possibility if people don't come out and vote," North Carolina resident Mary Adams said. 

The fate of abortion access in North Carolina depends on what happens in the state legislature. Republicans are currently in the majority, but they don't yet have enough seats to override a veto by the Democratic governor. This could change in November's general election. 

Democratic Senate nominee Cheri Beasley said that the stakes for North Carolina's tight U.S. Senate race will drive voter turnout. 

"I can certainly tell you that that even in the smallest rural communities, regardless of party affiliation, people want to talk about abortion access," Beasley said. 

But Beasley's opponent, Republican Congressman Ted Budd, who supports federal abortion restrictions, believes the election will hinge on the economy. 

North Carolina Republican pollster Paul Schumaker says there is little upside for GOP candidates like Budd to engage on abortion.  

"Keep the discussion about the economy. Don't have the discussion about the abortion issue because quite frankly, he [Budd] runs a risk of stepping on his base enthusiasm for turning out," said Schumaker. 

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