June 26, 2022
CHARLESTON, WV - After the Supreme Court’s bombshell ruling overturning Roe v. Wade ended the constitutional right to abortion on Friday, emotional protests and prayer vigils turned to resolve as several states enacted bans and both supporters and opponents of abortion rights mapped out their next moves.
Callie Pruett, who volunteered to escort patients into West Virginia’s only abortion clinic before it stopped offering the procedure after Friday’s ruling, said she plans to work in voter registration in the hope of electing officials who support abortion rights. The executive director of Appalachians for Appalachia added that her organization also will apply for grants to help patients get access to abortion care, including out of state.
“We have to create networks of people who are willing to drive people to Maryland or to D.C.,” Pruett said. “That kind of local action requires organization at a level that we have not seen in nearly 50 years.”
Fellow West Virginian Sarah MacKenzie, 25, said she’s motivated to fight for abortion access by the memory of her mother, Denise Clegg, a passionate reproductive health advocate who worked for years at the state’s clinic as a nurse practitioner and died unexpectedly in May. MacKenzie plans to attend protests in the capital, Charleston, and donate to a local abortion fund.
“She would be absolutely devastated. She was so afraid of this happening — she wanted to stop it,” Mackenzie said, adding, “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that this gets reversed.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.
Since the decision, clinics have stopped performing abortions in Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Women considering abortions already had been dealing with the near-complete ban in Oklahoma and a prohibition after roughly six weeks in Texas.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced he will issue guidance to lawmakers on how they should proceed.
“In the next few days, I will be providing a legal opinion to the Legislature about how it should proceed to save as many babies’ lives as humanly and legally possible,” the attorney general said in a statement.
“This historic decision is long past due, although it took nearly 50 years to overturn several flawed Supreme Court decisions that have led to the tragic deaths of more than 60 million unborn children,” Morrisey said in a statement. “I am proud to stand with those who agree that the law must afford the unborn the same rights as everyone, most especially the inviolable right to life. Our Constitution should never have been interpreted in a way that lets it override the states’ compelling interest to protect innocent life.”
Gov. Jim Justice applauded the Supreme Court’s ruling and said in a statement that he would call a special session if lawmakers need to clarify the state’s prohibition on abortion.
“I applaud the Supreme Court’s courageous decision today,” Justice said. “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. 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.”