CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Governor Jim Justice recently lifted a stop on abortion procedures due to COVID-19, but the West Virginia Women’s Health Center says state lawmakers haven’t stopped trying to place more limits on women’s reproductive rights.
As the only abortion clinic left in the Mountain State, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia has faced its share of challenges.
“From routine harassment from protesters to constant political battles that target peoples’ ability to get abortion care, but we never lose sight of what our work is really about, and it’s supporting the people in our community to build the families that they dream of,” said Executive Director Katie Quinonez.
Quinonez says they see women from all over the state, as well as from eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio.
Last year about 1,000 women had an abortion at the clinic.
Quinonez says in addition to giving contraception, cancer screenings, and std testing, the clinic serves about 3,000 women a year.
“Abortion is healthcare,” says Quinonez.
Abortion is healthcareKatie Quinonez, Women’s Health Center of West Virginia
But up for debate this legislative session are a number of proposed pro-life bills:
Creating human life non-discrimination act
Creating living infants fairness and equality act
Creating life at conception act of 2021
Banning certain medical abortions
Second chance at life act
Prohibiting nonsurgical, chemical abortions in WV
Creating “choose life” special registration plate supporting adoption
Republican Senator Patricia Rucker of Jefferson County is the lead sponsor or co-sponsor of several of them.
“The purpose for introducing pro-life legislation is always that I believe in the sanctity of life and that all lives matter,” said Rucker.
The purpose for introducing pro-life legislation is always that I believe in the sanctity of life and that all lives matter.Sen. Patricia Rucker
Sen. Rucker says many are inspired by legislation that has been passed in other states.
“Out of all of the bills she’s sponsoring, she thinks the “Second Chance at Life Act” has the most probability of passing.
It requires that information about a chemical abortion be provided to the woman before she is prescribed any pharmaceuticals.
“I have a lot of concerns about abortions being performed in that way; you’re not in a clinic, you’re not in a hospital setting, no one knows how you’re going to react to those drugs, it is very very hard on the body,” she said.
But Quinonez says there are enough limitations on abortions in West Virginia.
“A parental notification requirement, a 24-hour waiting period, a second-trimester method ban, a 20-week ban, a telehealth ban on medication abortion,” lists Quinonez.
“It’s just discouraging that these politicians are prioritizing introducing legislation that prioritizes abortion bans when we’re still living in a pandemic and West Virginians are still feeling the effects of that,” she said.
Last week the attorneys general of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio all joined a lawsuit aimed at stopping President Joe Biden from allowing federal funding to go toward abortions.