West Virginia Lawmakers Introduce 15-Week Abortion Ban
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia lawmakers have introduced an act to ban abortions after 15 weeks- a proposal nearly identical to the Mississippi law currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
While the nation waits for the court’s decision on the abortion case later this year that could invalidate Roe v. Wade, at least two other states — West Virginia (and Florida) — have introduced legislation similar to Mississippi’s.
Both Florida and West Virginia bills would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks, except in medical emergencies or in the event of a significant fetal abnormality. Both bills would not permit exemptions for women who have been sexually assaulted or have been incestually abused.
Republican Del. Ruth Rowan, lead sponsor of the West Virginia bill, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that West Virginia has an obligation to protect the unborn because it is “a Christian state where people care about their families and their children.”
Rowan carries two wallet-sized photos around in the Capitol The first is of her 17-year-old grandsonwho is a junior at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind The other picture shows him in a hospital incubator when he was born early — at 28 weeks.
When Rowan’s daughter was expecting she claimed that doctors told her daughter the pregnancy was a risk and gave her some options. They advised her to stop the pregnancy. Rowan stated that the choice was obvious. The family is happy that she chose to keep Rowan years later.
“He’s our miracle. Rowan, who was crying during a House interview stated that God is the reason I’m so dedicated to what I’m currently doing. “Life is precious and we have to respect it.”
Rowan said that adoption is always an alternative for women who don’t wish to be parents, adding that “God has a reason for every one of our children.”
Similar to Mississippi There is just one West Virginia-based facility in the capital city, which offers abortions. This is a decrease from 2014, which saw five abortion-related facilities in West Virginia, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Katie Quinonez is the executive director of Women’s Health Center West Virginia which is the sole facility that offers abortions in the state. Quinonez has stated that the legislation will make it harder to access abortion in a state with limited access.
West Virginia’s current law prohibits abortions after 20 week. It requires that women undergo state-directed counseling prior to when they are allowed to undergo the procedure. Parents must be notified before the minor is allowed to undergo an abortion.
As it is women face difficulties traveling to Charleston to get an abortion before 20 weeks due to the fact that West Virginia is a rural state without access to robust public transportation as per Quinonez. She said that further restrictions would require hundreds of people to travel out of the state for abortion care.
She said that abortion bans are, by default, racist and sexist , and are at the root of white supremacy. This includes the exploitation of Black women, and the control over women’s bodies, and their decisions.
Quinonez said that restrictions on abortion are particularly harmful to those who are already “marginalized” by our healthcare system. She highlighted the people of color, young people with low incomes, and those who live in rural areas.
“Our legislators should be working to increase healthcare access for marginalized folks, not take their healthcare away,” she said.
Quinonez claimed that she had two abortions in West Virginia, one while she was in high school and the second when she was 22.
During her first pregnancy she was dating an older man who was emotionally abusive. She wasn’t able to get her abortion until after 15 weeks. She explained that she needed to be employed part-time at pizzerias to pay for the procedure.
“That’s why the 15-week ban is so difficult. I can remember as a young person how terrifying it would have been to be told, “Well, you have to go somewhere else to get the help you require. ” “I was aware that I didn’t want to be a parent.”
The West Virginia abortion bill has passed the House health committee and will go to the judiciary committee. If it is approved by the judiciary, it will be sent to the full House.
Kristin Ford, vice-president of communications research and communications at NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that if Roe v. Wade is thrown out at the very least, 26 states will likely have restrictions on abortions put into immediate effect or will pass new ones.