West Virginia lawmakers introduce 15-week abortion ban

Jan 18, 2022, 3:38 PM | Updated: 10:43 pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban abortion after 15 weeks — a proposal nearly identical to the Mississippi law currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As the nation waits for the court to make a decision later this year in the abortion case that could overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, at least two states — West Virginia and Florida — have introduced bills mirroring Mississippi’s.

Both the Florida and West Virginia bills would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks except in a medical emergency or in the case of a severe fetal abnormality. Neither would provide exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

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 as “a Christian state where people care about their families and their children.”

Rowan carries two wallet-sized photos around with her in the Capitol: One is of her 17-year-old grandson, a junior at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind; the other shows him in a hospital incubator when he was born early — at 28 weeks.

When Rowan’s daughter was pregnant, she said, doctors told her daughter the pregnancy would be risky and gave her some options. Among them, they said, she could end her pregnancy. Rowan said the choice was clear. Years later, the family is grateful she decided to keep him.

“He’s our miracle. He’s why I’m so committed to what I’m doing right now,” Rowan said, speaking through tears during an interview on the House floor. “Life is precious, and we need to respect that.”

Rowan said adoption is always an option for women who don’t want to be parents, saying “God has a reason for all of our children.”

Like Mississippi, there is only one facility in West Virginia’s state capital that performs abortions. That’s down from 2014, when there were five abortion-providing facilities in West Virginia, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Katie Quinonez, executive director of Women’s Health Center of West Virginia — the state’s sole facility currently performing abortions — said the legislation would make abortion harder to access in a state where such access is already severely limited.

Current law in West Virginia prohibits abortions after 20 weeks and requires women to undergo state-directed counseling and wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. Parents must be notified before a minor receives an abortion.

As it is, women have difficulty making the trek to Charleston to have an abortion before 20 weeks because West Virginia is a rural state without access to robust public transportation, according to Quinonez. Further restrictions would mean hundreds of people would have to travel out of state for abortion care, she said.

“Abortion bans, by default, are racist, are sexist, are rooted in white supremacy, particularly the exploitation of Black women and controlling women’s bodies and decisions,” she said.

Quinonez said abortions restrictions fall hardest on people who “are already marginalized by our healthcare systems.” She cited people of color, young persons, low-income earners and people who live in rural areas.

“Our legislators should be working to expand access to healthcare for those marginalized folks, not take their healthcare away,” she said.

Quinonez said she had two abortions in West Virginia — one when she was in high school at age 17 and the other at age 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 said she had to try to save money from her part-time pizzeria job to pay for the procedure.

“That’s why this 15-week ban is particularly upsetting because I just remember myself as a teenager and how daunting that would have been to have been told, ‘Well, you have to travel somewhere out of state to get the care that you need,’ ” she said. “I knew that I did not want to be a parent.”

West Virginia’s abortion bill has cleared the House health committee and will go to the judiciary committee. If it passes the judiciary, it will go to the full House.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, at least 26 states are expected to have abortion restrictions quickly go into effect or pass new ones, said Kristin Ford, the vice-president of communications and research for NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Tom Cruise gestures for photographers during the red carpet event to promote their latest movie Top...
Associated Press

‘Elvis,’ ‘Top Gun’ tie for box-office crown with $30.5M each

"Elvis" shook up theaters with an estimated $30.5 million in weekend sales, but -- in a box-office rarity -- it tied "Top Gun: Maverick."
21 hours ago
Colorado Avalanche left wing Artturi Lehkonen (62) reacts after scoring on Tampa Bay Lightning goal...
Associated Press

Avalanche dethrone Lightning to win Stanley Cup for 3rd time

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche are back atop hockey’s mountain after dethroning the two-time defending champions. Behind a goal and an assist from Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup for the third time in franchise history and first in more than two decades by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in […]
21 hours ago
In this photo released by the Longmont Police Department the Life Choices building in Longmont, Col...
Associated Press

Police investigating fire at Colorado pregnancy center

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — A weekend fire at a Christian pregnancy center in north-central Colorado is being investigated as a possible arson, police in Longmont said. The fire at Life Choices was reported at 3:17 a.m. Saturday, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and said abortion laws would be decided by […]
21 hours ago
The Very Rev. Kris Stubna, rector of St. Paul Cathedral Parish, preaches on the topic of abortion a...
Associated Press

After Roe’s demise, clergy lead faithful in praise, laments

Praise and lament for the overturning of abortion rights filled sacred spaces this weekend as clergy across the U.S. rearranged worship plans or rewrote sermons to provide their religious context — and competing messages — about the historic moment. Abortion is a visceral issue for deeply divided religious Americans. Some are sad or angry in […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Poisonous bite leads German police to farm with 110 snakes

BERLIN (AP) — Police in Germany said Sunday they discovered more than 110 dangerous snakes on a farm after a woman who lived there sought medical treatment for a poisonous bite. The 35-year-old woman drove to a hospital in Salzgitter, near Hannover, early Sunday and told doctors there that one of her rattlesnakes bit her […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Average US gasoline price drops 4 cents to $5.05 per gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline fell by 4 cents per gallon in the past two weeks to $5.05 for regular grade, it was reported Sunday. It was the first drop in nine weeks and came with a drop in oil prices amid deepening global inflation fears, industry analyst Trilby […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
West Virginia lawmakers introduce 15-week abortion ban