CHARLESTON — After weeks of deal-making behind closed doors, the West Virginia Legislature has banned abortion, subjecting half of the state’s population to second-class status and placing lifesaving health care out of reach for tens of thousands.
“West Virginians will now have to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their homes and incur massive costs to access essential, lifesaving care,” said Katie Quiñonez, executive director of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia.
W.Va. FREE Executive Director Margaret Chapman Pomponio said: “This bill has been ramrodded without any listening to stakeholders like health care providers and people who need reproductive care. House and Senate leadership are allowing a radical contingent in their caucus to drive this dangerous attack. It’s completely out of step with what West Virginians want and need.”
A poll released last week by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce found that nearly half of West Virginians identify as “pro-choice” and that a strong majority oppose an outright ban on abortion.
Chapman Pomponio went on to refer to another new poll released by West Virginia obstetricians and gynecologists showing that young West Virginia voters are especially opposed to the abortion ban.
“Young people are more likely to move out of state if this ban passes. Doctors are less likely to practice here. Maternity deserts will lead to people who want to start families leaving our Mountain State. This is tragic, outrageous and unnecessary.”
Alisa Clements, West Virginia field director for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said: “This bill insults West Virginia doctors, questioning their expertise and putting their patients’ lives at risk. And no matter how many narrow exceptions are written into this dangerous bill, it will cause chaos in the health care system and result in people being denied life-saving care, including survivors of sexual assault. State lawmakers have once again schemed behind closed doors, shamefully denying the will and political participation of their constituents, because they know their extreme agenda is not what West Virginians want in their state. The people need to know this is a government mandate that interferes with private medical decisions and gives politicians control over a person’s body, family and future.”
“It’s hard to overstate what a terrible day this is for the state of West Virginia,” ACLU-WV Advocacy Director Eli Baumwell said. “The Legislature chose to strip away a basic human right to choose if, when and how a person becomes a parent. They did this in the face of polls that say that this is not what West Virginians want. This is a decision that will cruelly and unnecessarily imperil lives and move our state backward. We will never stop working to restore and protect the rights to basic bodily autonomy.”