WV Abortion Law From 1882 Now Enforceable after Roe Overturned, Protesters March over Weekend

Evan Green, Features Editor

On Friday, Jun. 24 at around 11 a.m., the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade, a long-standing precedent that protected legal rights to an abortion throughout the country. With this case being overturned, it is expected that abortion laws within the state of West Virginia will grow more restrictive, as the state legislature utilizes its strong Republican majority to tighten abortion access. A leaked draft of an opinion overturning Roe written by Justice Alito was published by Politico in May.

West Virginia is not one of the states that had instituted “trigger laws,” laws designed to only take effect once Roe was overturned, but an already existing law from 1882 that made performing abortions a possible felony has reentered effect since the overturning of Roe. This has led to the only clinic that still performed abortions within the state to stop performing the procedure.

Shauntelle Thompson

The West Virginia Women’s Health Center announced after Roe was overturned that they would no longer be performing abortion operations, though they will remain open to provide other types of reproductive care.

 “I applaud the Supreme Court’s courageous decision today. I’ve said many times that I very proudly stand for life and I am rock-solid against abortion, and I believe that every human life is a miracle worth protecting,” said Gov. Jim Justice after the Supreme Court’s ruling was made on Friday. “I will not hesitate to call a special session after consulting with the Legislature and my legal team if clarification in our laws needs to be made.”

The Women’s Health Center canceled all existing abortion appointments at the facility and currently has a lawyer examining the law that is currently in place.

“But let me be clear, I support legislation that would codify the rights Roe v. Wade previously protected. I am hopeful Democrats and Republicans will come together to put forward a piece of legislation that would do just that,” said Senator Joe Manchin (R-WV) in a public statement after the Supreme Court ruling was made. The support of Manchin could be crucial if Democrats hope to pass legislation to codify Roe into law, as he has served as the deciding vote on many crucial issues in the Senate over the last two years.

Since the ruling was made, protests have been held across the state in support of abortion rights, including protests held outside of the Cabell County Courthouse on both Friday and Saturday. The protesters hope to signal to their legislators that they support a woman’s right to choose through these demonstrations.