NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina
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About Susan

Minutes after the Supreme Court announced the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, Durham native Susan Hill (1948-2010) received a call from physician Sam Barr. He asked her to join him in starting the first abortion clinic in Florida, and, within weeks, the clinic opened its doors in Orlando.

Deeply moved by her social work experience and a close friend's near-fatal experience with an illegal abortion before Roe v. Wade, in 1975 Susan established the National Women's Health Organization (NWHO), a group of abortion clinics in the most underserved areas of the country. Her work with the NWHO laid the legal foundation for access to abortion services around the United States.

Susan encountered every form of opposition, including being on hit lists; zoning ordinances intended to block the opening of clinics; anti-choice extremists who vandalized, invaded and fire-bombed clinics; and the assassinations of a doctor on her staff and other friends who were abortion providers. But she fought back, suing abortion protesters more than 30 times and helping to protect all those who entered her clinics. Her brother, Dan, describes her as "the toughest person I ever know. She's the only person I know who wore (or was supposed to wear) a bulletproof vest to work. People really wanted to kill her, and she never flinched."

We remember Susan for her work in establishing reproductive health clinics across the rural South and nationwide- even in the face of grave danger. As North Carolina's grassroots pro-choice organization, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina carries the torch that Susan held high. With the support of her family, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina has established the Susan Hill Initiative, a fund to educate and mobilize citizens to ensure reproductive justice for all women here in Susan's home state. 

In 2007, Hill received the Nancy Susan Reynolds award, also known as "North Carolina's Nobel Prize" and the state's highest honor for public advocacy. For the award, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation created a moving video profile on her, a poignant portrait of this truly inspiring icon.



It is difficult to imagine where women of the South would turn for abortion care and other reproductive health services without Susan's dedicated and tireless pioneering efforts. Her life and work have inspired thousands of individuals to take a stand for reproductive justice for all women.


 
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