NC Pediatricians Announce Opposition to Amendment One

At a press conference held Wednesday, April 25, at the North Carolina General Assembly, representatives from the North Carolina Pediatric Society joined with colleagues from the North Carolina Psychological Association, the North Carolina Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, North Carolina Chapter and the Carolinas Chapter of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists in opposing Amendment One, the proposed amendment to the North Carolina Constitution that would ban relationship recognitions and threaten protections for the state’s unmarried couples.

Speaking for the North Carolina Pediatric Society, past president Peter Morris, M.D., said he worries if the amendment were to pass, “families of all types will find themselves with stresses, toxic stresses, that will affect their lives and that will affect their children’s lives. The North Carolina Pediatric Society opposes the ratification of Amendment One.”

That opposition was echoed by Raleigh psychiatrist Jean Aycock, who explained that because of the amendment’s far-reaching language, potentially impacting health care and legal safeguards for all unmarried, cohabiting households, 911,186 North Carolina children could be threatened by Amendment One, according to 2010 census data. “That’s almost one million North Carolina kids who stand to be impacted by Amendment One,” said Aycock. “This is not so much an anti-gay amendment as an anti-child amendment.”

The press conference was hosted by Rep. Rick Glazier and Sen. Eric Mansfield, a physician who also hold and Masters in Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Speaking about the amendment he called “toxic” and “shocking” because of its potential impact to the health care of all children of unmarried couples in the state, Dr. Mansfield said “one half of my pediatric practice comes from children…and this amendment does something that I think is quite catastrophic. We have one million kids who may lose services and the ability to be seen in the health care system…and so I stand as a veteran, an ordained Baptist minister, I stand as a North Carolina Senator, and I stand as a [physician], to say that I am with my colleagues that we are against this toxic and shocking amendment.”

Both Rep. Glazier and Sen. Mansfield have been outspoken critics of Amendment One, and the harms it would cause to families and children across North Carolina, since its introduction in the legislature last year.

“It is irresponsible for amendment sponsors to try and deceive voters into passing an amendment with a false premise that would effectively live on in our founding legal document, the history of this state, possibly in perpetuity and cause so much harm to so many,” said Glazier.

The opposition to Amendment One by North Carolina’s Medical and Mental Health professionals is reflective of national perspectives as WELL – the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the National Association of Social Workers have all gone on record as opposing laws that restrict legal recognition and protections for unmarried couples, which is precisely the effect Amendment One would have if passed by voters on May 8.

Sample remarks from today’s press conference:

“There is nothing in North Carolina’s proposed Amendment One, that will serve to protect either children or families…. children could be denied access to a parent’s health insurance, quality child care and early childhood education programs, custody agreements, domestic violence protections, and more.” – Dr. Erica Wise, M.D. President-Elect, North Carolina Psychological Association

“This Amendment will undermine existing family structures and the societal protections that many of our patients depend upon, such as adoption rights, access to healthcare and insurance, and domestic violence protections. This Amendment changes no North Carolina law affecting the LGBT community – but it affects many heterosexual couples in ways that are largely unpublicized. We know many of our patients are in unmarried heterosexual partnerships that will be negatively affected by this amendment. We are particularly concerned about the children who will lose insurance benefits should this amendment pass.” – Dr. Harold Carmel, Past President, North Carolina Psychiatric Association

“This amendment not only affects our profession but the clients we serve. Domestic violence protections against unmarried women will be affected as the Amendment redefines marriage. Children in unmarried homes will be affected from not having insurance coverage to visitation rights. Seniors lose privileges such as visiting loved ones in the hospital or making critical medical decisions on behalf their loved ones. Protecting our citizens is important to ensuring a productive society and this Amendment does not protect North Carolina’s citizens.” – Tanya Roberts, MSW, Board President, National Association of Social Workers, North Carolina Chapter