Voters in North Carolina are so troubled about the possibility of losing abortion rights in their state after the midterm elections that it’s a critical issue that Jasmine Beach-Ferrara getting questions about. As one of the few Southern states with legal abortion access, Beach-Ferrara, 47, is set on protecting the right to choose both in North Carolina and nationwide. The Buncombe County Commissioner and first-time candidate to represent North Carolina’s 11th District reported that so many women she’s spoken to on the campaign trail have urgently their fears to her since the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade.
“This comes up all the time as I’m talking to voters, especially but not exclusively women, who are so upset that we’re living through a time when we have lost fundamental rights and freedoms and when we have politicians like my opponent, Chuck Edwards, who is forcing their way into the most private parts of our lives and making decisions for us,” Beach-Ferrara told HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview.
Beach-Ferrara said that not only are members of her district infuriated by the decision to overturn Roe, but they are also preparing to do everything they can to protect the right to an abortion. “It’s not just that people are angry, it’s that they’re also motivated. They’re motivated to vote. They’re motivated to volunteer. They’re motivated to make sure that at the state level on the federal level, we’re electing people who will restore these rights and fight for them,” she explained.
If her constituents send her to the House of Representatives on November 8, Beach-Ferrara is ready to fight to keep abortion legal across the United States and in North Carolina. She believes that it’s a woman’s right to choose “in consultation with her doctor and those most trusted people in her life,” as do so many Americans and people in Western North Carolina. “I’ll start at the national level and then work our way into the state level. I fully support the right to choose and the protections under Roe v. Wade and I will be in Congress to codify those protections into federal law,” she said. “We remain one of the few southern states where abortion access is legal, and we are fighting very hard at the political level to ensure that that remains true after this election cycle.”
Abortion is currently legal in North Carolina for up to 20 weeks after the last menstrual cycle, per Planned Parenthood. Beach-Ferrara said that people come from the neighboring states Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia to receive medical care that they “can’t access it safely, reliably, where they live.”
While Beach-Ferrara is fighting to ensure that women will have the right to choose, she claims that her Republican opponent, North Carolina State Senator Chuck Edwards, whom she calls an “extremist,” is in favor of a total ban “that [does] not include exceptions, even in the cases of rape or incest or the health of the mother,” she explains. The congressional candidate explained what a total abortion ban could mean. “We know what that means in real time because we are seeing this play out in the lives of Americans as a result of bans. Whether it’s a family that’s gotten the heartbreaking news that a child cannot survive past birth, and even though they’ve been decorating their nursery, they suddenly face almost impossible decisions about what to do, or a 10-year-old girl who has been raped and become pregnant, and her family has to travel across state lines for her to get the medical care she needs and then her doctors criminally investigated. These aren’t hypotheticals.”
Not only is Beach-Ferrara running for Congress, but she’s also an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Still, she strongly supports the separation of church and state. She doesn’t “believe that anyone’s religious beliefs certainly including my own should be imposed on other people.” She explained that being a pastor reinforces her pro-choice beliefs. “Just from the experience of walking alongside people as they are making very difficult decisions in their lives, and you know what people need is love and support, and the privacy and freedom to make the decisions that are right for them,” she said. “The last thing that people need during the hardest moments of their lives is a politician telling them that they have only one choice and that’s not even up to them.”
Following the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe V. Wade, many people worried what it could mean for Obergefell v. Hodges, another landmark case that legalized same-sex marriage across the country. Beach-Ferrera said the fight to protect LGBTQ rights comes from a “personal place,” because of her marriage and family with her wife Meghann. “Thinking about my marriage to my wife, Meghann, and our three children, along with hundreds of thousands of people, we fought hard for the right to have the freedom to marry and to have our marriage protected, and it keeps me up at night thinking about what it would mean for those rights to be rolled back,” she explained.
If elected, Beach-Ferrara wants to codify LGBTQ rights by passing the Equality Act and “continuing to take steps at the policy level so LGBTQ people in our country are not just fully protected under the law but fully included in every part of our public life.” Besides passing legislation to ensure those rights are protected, she also spoke about “pushing back against and defeating the continued waves of anti-LGBTQ legislation that we see particularly at the state level that right now are targeting transgender youth in cruel and unprecedented ways.” The candidate claimed that Edwards opposes the freedom to marry and “has championed things like ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation,” in the State Senate.
These are only some of the major issues that Beach-Ferrara is fighting for in her campaign. She’s also been incredibly dedicated to expanding educational opportunities and extending mental health support to those who need it, including those affected by the opioid crisis. “Just this past weekend, I was knocking on doors in Henderson County and met a man who shared some of his story, including that he had lost three close family members to addiction and mental health issues, and for him, expanding access to treatment and mental health services is a top priority and that’s an issue that is very close to my heart,” she said.
Beach-Ferrara expressed her plans to expand Medicaid and access to healthcare as well as “expedite providing broadband” so people can have easier access to telehealth services. “As soon as we get Medicaid expansion it will start saving lives, increasing access to care, including mental health care, and creating jobs along the way,” she said. While addressing the relationship that addiction plays in mental health issues, she also shared that as Buncombe County Commissioner, she helped “implement a medication-assisted treatment program in our local detention center, as well as a mobile program,” which showed results that trended towards less deaths from overdoses. “We need to be having conversations about the realities of mental health issues,” she said.
In terms of education, Beach-Ferrara supports establishing universal pre-k and “prioritizing teacher pay” to strengthen the education system in her state. She also supports free community college tuition and the work that President Joe Biden has done to forgive student loan debt. “We just need to prioritize addressing that as one more form of relief that can be delivered to working families and young people as they’re starting to build their lives,” she said.
Beach-Ferrara said she’s running to Congress to “deliver the leadership and representation that our district needs and deserves.” She noted that there was an empty seat when former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows “vacated his post” in the House, and said that current Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a Republican, “has all but abandoned our district” (Cawthorn lost his Republican primary to Beach-Ferrara’s opponent Chuck Edwards). She promises to passionately represent the people of North Carolina in Congress. “We’re trying to deliver the leadership our district deserves,” she said.
If elected, she would also be the first woman to represent her district in Congress. “Certainly my perspective as a woman and a mom and a minister would shape all of that, and I would be excited that girls growing up in western North Carolina would never have to hear again, that ‘We’ve never elected a woman to Congress, so you probably shouldn’t run’ and would instead start to hear a different message which is, ‘This is the kind of place where we elect all kinds of people to Congress,'” she said.
Jasmine Beach-Ferrara is a candidate on the roster for the political action committee Her Bold Move, which offers support to progressive female candidates. She said that working with the organization has been “terrific,” and she’s “honored” to be one of the candidates that they’re supporting. “They were one of the organizations that came in early during the campaign cycle and have shared support with us and guidance, and it’s just meant a tremendous amount,” she said. “We’re honored to be campaigning in a way that is bringing groups like Her Bold Move into this race and continuing to push and elevate how important it is that we have women and people of color and LGBTQ folks and folks with other diverse backgrounds, running for office and elected to office and in the room and at the table as policies are being developed.”
To learn more about Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, click here. To vote for her, you can do it now, because early voting has begun in North Carolina. To find more information about early voting or registering to vote, find out via Vote.org. Elections matter. Vote!Click to Subscribe to Get Our Free HollywoodLife Daily Newsletter to get the hottest celeb news.