CHARLESTON — The House of Delegates today passed House Bill 4004, a bill banning abortion starting at 15 weeks of pregnancy. The bill is similar to the abortion ban passed by the state of Mississippi and brought to the U.S. Supreme Court last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.
Many barriers can stand in the way of someone getting an abortion once they have made their decision, from not being able to afford it to travel distance to a clinic. Restrictions in some states have forced many clinics to shut down, so it can sometimes be weeks until someone can get an appointment. There is only one abortion clinic in West Virginia, forcing people to travel long distances across or out of the state.
“My high-risk pregnancy was dangerous to my physical and mental health, but because of the barriers that already exist in West Virginia, accessing the abortion care that I critically needed was nearly impossible,” said Ash Orr, a West Virginian who had an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy who uses they/he pronouns. “I was forced to travel out of state to obtain the abortion I needed because of the financial barriers I faced. Bans and restrictions like this harm people like me: working-class West Virginians who just want to make their own choices about their futures.”
“Politicians have no right to control your body or force you to give birth against your will,” said Emily Womeldorff, Constituency Engagement Specialist for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “The decision to end a pregnancy shouldn’t be political and certainly shouldn’t be dictated by politicians. And yet state lawmakers who pretend to believe in personal freedoms have made taking away people’s rights and health care their top priority. We can’t pretend to know the circumstances of another person’s pregnancy, and decisions that affect their health and future should be theirs and theirs alone.”
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns or weakens the federal rights established under Roe v. Wade, the legality of abortion will be up to each state. Twenty-six states are expected to swiftly ban or restrict access to abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, including West Virginia.