Amid Restrictions and Uncertain Fate of Roe, Abortions Rise in West Virginia

June 23, 2022

Mountaineer News

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The latest U.S. Census data reveals abortions have been on the rise across the nation. A new report from the Guttmacher Institute found 8% more procedures in 2020 than in 2017 - a total of more than 930,000 nationwide. That's despite a jump in abortion restrictions, including in the Mountain State, where patients must receive counseling, wait 24 hours before having an abortion and are banned from using telemedicine. Kaylen Barker - communications director with West Virginia Women's Health Center - explained that when people are forced to travel to other states to end a pregnancy, the restrictions hit lower-income and communities of color the hardest. "And especially in areas like West Virginia," said Barker, "that have a disproportionate number of people living in poverty." The Supreme Court could potentially overturn the federal right to an abortion in a ruling expected by the end of month in the case 'Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.' It involves a Mississippi state law that bans abortions after 15 weeks, which is well before many people realize they are pregnant. Barker added those who can't get abortions are more likely to stay in contact with violent partners, prolonging cycles of abuse in families. She noted that West Virginia already has one of the highest rates of kids living in foster care, and ranks 45th in the nation for teen births. "They're more likely to raise children as single parents," said Barker, "and these factors combine to create worse childhood development and wellness outcomes for children." Some experts are concerned an abortion ban could increase maternal deaths. Women in the U.S. already see a higher death rate in and post-pregnancy than their counterparts in other industrialized nations.

Sources: Long-Term Decline in US Abortions Reverses, Showing Rising Need for Abortion as Supreme Court Is Poised to Overturn Roe v. Wade the Guttmacher Institute 6/15/22 State Facts About Abortion: West Virginia the Guttmacher Institute 2022 Maternal Mortality and Maternity Care in the United States Compared to 10 Other Developed Countries the Commonwealth Fund 11/18/20