The only abortion clinic in West Virginia is no longer performing abortions as of Friday.
Katie Quinonez, executive director of Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, said the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling issued Friday that allows states to ban abortion is making an immediate, hard-felt impact.
The state has an abortion ban law on the books that makes providing abortions a felony carrying three to 10 years of prison time. It’s unclear how the state will proceed on enforcement.
“Roe has never been enough, but in states like West Virginia, it was the only thing protecting abortion access,” Quinonez said.
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“We will not stop fighting for the abortion rights of every West Virginian,” the Charleston center said in a social media post.
They will remain open for services including providing birth control, doing cancer screenings and providing pregnancy support, they said.
Quinonez said West Virginians will be forced to travel hundreds or thousands of miles away from home to access health care and that marginalized communities will be hurt the most.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Republican Gov. Jim Justice applauded the high court’s decision Friday. Justice said he “will not hesitate” to call the Legislature into a special session if the state abortion law needs to be clarified.
West Virginia currently bans abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy unless a patient’s life is in danger, or they face “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” Patients seeking abortions must wait 24 hours after undergoing legislatively mandated counseling designed to discourage abortions.
A minor who wants an abortion must obtain parental permission. The use of telemedicine to administer a medication abortion is outlawed. The state also bars patients from getting abortions because they believe their child will be born with a disability.
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The House of Delegates this year passed a 15-week abortion ban like the Mississippi law under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, but it died in the Senate.
West Virginia lawmakers could introduce new legislation restricting abortion access when they return to the Capitol in January, but they could return sooner if called into a special session.
Andrea Swalec contributed reporting.