On International Human Rights Day, at the state General Assembly in Raleigh, Physicians, clergy and civil rights leaders accused Republican lawmakers of violating the human rights of half a million people. To deny healthcare is a direct violation of Article 25 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Without any exaggeration, our state can unfortunately be counted amongst other human rights violators because of our legislature’s and governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Their reasoning, the legislators claim, “it’s a matter of principle”.
However, we cannot condone any principle that causes untold suffering to close to 500,000 North Carolinians and may be responsible for the deaths of 2,800 people per year. There has already been one preventable death in Belhaven, North Carolina, that can be attributed to a hospital closing as a consequence of denying healthcare. We are standing up for the sanctity of life and health for every North Carolinian.
Rev. John Mendez: “We have an opportunity to expand people’s lives.”
Rev. John Mendez: “During the drive from Winston-Salem, I kept asking myself why are we coming to a press conference for something that should be guaranteed?”
Dr. Susan Eder: “Medicaid expansion is what the United Nations had in mind when they passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Rev. Anthony T. Spearman: “If God favors the least of these, a nation under God should follow suit.”
Brief bios of the speakers:
NC Senator Earline Parmon – District 32 is a longtime advocate for affordable healthcare.
Dr. Charles van der Horst is a professor at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine and a world renowned AIDS researcher. Dr. van der Horst has a long history of fighting for social justice issues, particularly in regards to expanding healthcare access to patients with infectious diseases.
Dr. Susan Eder has lived in North Carolina for 23 years. She is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and practices in Raleigh, North Carolina. She also works at a family guidance center in Cary, North Carolina. Dr. Eder has been a strong advocate for healthcare justice, and in 2013, she was arrested during a Moral Monday demonstration in Raleigh.
Rev. John Mendez is the senior minister of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Reverend Mendez has spent decades fighting for civil and human rights most notably as a delegate to the United Nations Conference on Racism in Quito, Ecuador, and serving on numerous fact-finding commissions here in the United States and abroad.
Sandy Irving is a retired research associate from Department of Biostatistics at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Public Health. Irving currently serves as the volunteer program associate for healthcare reform at the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Reverend Michelle Laws is an associate minister at Union Baptist Church in Durham and the executive director of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. Reverend Laws is a women’s health researcher, educator, and advocate working to eliminate health inequities and improve health outcomes for poor and ethnic minority women.
Reverend Dr. T. Anthony Spearman is a senior pastor of St. Phillip AME Zion Church and is the third Vice President of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. In the past, Reverend Spearman’s civil rights work included standing in solidarity with K-Mart workers in Greensboro and pushing to expand the rights of the LGBT community. Recently, Reverend Spearman has been an influential leader in the Moral Monday movement.
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