MORGANTOWN, WV – A Rally for “abortion justice” was held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Courthouse Square.

More than 100 people, mostly women, were in attendance to voice their belief that abortion and body autonomy are human rights. Several people spoke during the rally including Del. Danielle Walker and Certified Nurse Midwife Kelly Lemon. Lemon was asked to speak on behalf of healthcare providers and as someone who is “very proudly pro-choice”.

Kelly Lemon

“A lot of times I find that healthcare providers will hide behind the words of our national organizations, so we have a lot of statements that say abortion is safe and should be freely accessible to people and is a necessary healthcare service,” Lemon said. “But, unfortunately, we don’t always feel safe to come out and put our faces to those statements, so I wanted to make sure that I’m being more outspoken and saying that this should be something that I can provide to my patients.”

Coming in, Lemon said, she was “nervous” to speak in front of the crowd. But after seeing so many people who were proud to voice their support, things changed.

She felt empowered and inspired.

“I kind of felt like I was going to cry a little bit,” she said.

The event organizers are the Morgantown Chapter of the National Organization for Women in collaboration with Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and the League of Women Voters, Morgantown – Monongalia County.

They felt inspired to rally because of recent events with “the Texas vigilante abortion ban (SB8)“.

In a release, organizers said the law “demonstrate(s) the fragility of abortion rights and access in this country. West Virginia lawmakers have a history of interfering in the doctor-patient relationship and limiting access with false information and intimidation. Several legislators have stated their intent to follow the lead of Texas and make abortion nearly impossible to access in West Virginia”.

Woman holding sign (left) addressing the Texas abortion law

This rally was one of many being held nationally to protest the Texas abortion law and to demand reproductive rights for women.

“My gosh, yeah, everything coming out of Texas right now is what’s really pushing forward the need for us to come out of the shadows and be outspoken in our support of the pro-choice movement,” Lemon said. “And so, I think that the more people that see these scary things happening, they’re going to be inspired to come out and give their voice to the pro-choice movement. Otherwise, our silence is giving space for them to speak up, and it’s not OK.” 

Lemon said events like Saturday’s rally encourage people to speak up and lets them know they are not alone in the fight.

Abortion, she believes, is a human right, so said she was proud to be part of the national movement trying to guarantee that right.

“I think that this makes people feel like it’s safe to be able to speak up,” Lemon said. “I know that that’s something that’s held me back in the past, is being afraid of losing friends, neighbors, or patients. I think when you come out and you see your community all touching base, coming together and so many volumes of people saying, you know, ‘well, I do support this, this is OK, this is safe, this is something we should all be supporting’ — it makes you also feel like you can come forward and do that.” 

Del. Danielle Walker speaks during the rally

During the event, attendees had the opportunity to register to vote, donate funds for abortion access in West Virginia, contact their state and federal lawmakers.