The Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down a federally-guaranteed right to abortion under Roe vs. Wade sent the issue to state legislatures and set up a patchwork of policies across the country.
The states surrounding West Virginia have a variety of policies, depending on what laws have been established already and the party in power.
The law on the books in West Virginia dates back to the 1800s and says providing an abortion is a felony punishable by three to 10 years of imprisonment. The state’s last abortion clinic stopped providing the procedure from concern that the law could now be prosecuted.
West Virginia Women’s Health Center advised West Virginians seeking abortion access to visit abortionfinder.org and call the National Abortion Federation Hotline at 1-877-257-0012.
“It means that West Virginians with the money to do so will now be forced to travel hundreds of thousands of miles away from their health care,” said Katie Quinonez, executive director of the health center.
Alisa Clements of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic said patients are being referred to nearby states.
“The states that we are preparing to potentially absorb patients are our clinics in North Carolina and Virginia, where it’s not as hostile for patients in those states,” Clements said.
She added, “There are also clinics in Maryland and Pennsylvania, who are independent and then also Planned Parenthood affiliates. We do have those clinics available for patients in the area since we are surrounded in a tri-state area situation in West Virginia.”
The status of surrounding states:
Virginia: Abortion is legal and likely to remain protected if Democrats maintain their narrow in the state Senate in 2023. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has expressed support for a ban after 15 weeks. Republicans have the majority in Virginia’s House.
Maryland: Abortion has been legal for three decades. In 1991, legislation passed allowing abortions up to the point where the fetus can survive outside the womb. That isn’t likely to change with a Legislature controlled by Democrats.
Pennsylvania: Abortion is legal through the 24th week of pregnancy, but Pennsylvania is viewed as a battleground. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed previous pro-life bills, but will leave office because of a term limit. Pennsylvania policymakers have been considering an amendment to the state Constitution saying “the policy of Pennsylvania is to protect the life of every unborn child.”
Ohio: A ban on abortion after 6 weeks that Ohio enacted in 2019 has taken effect.
Kentucky: A trigger ban took effect, so abortion is now illegal. Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, called the trigger law “extremist,” noting that it provides no exceptions for rape or incest. But Kentucky’s General Assembly is dominated by Republicans who have been pushing laws to ban or restrict abortion, including the trigger law.