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W.Va. Leaders React To Overturn Of Roe v. Wade

Capitol Dome & West Virginia State Capitol Bell - WV.jpg
Perry Bennett
/
WV Legislative Photography

**Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Updated on Friday, June 24 at 3:40 p.m.

West Virginia’s elected officials and community leaders are reacting to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In a 6-3 decision, the court upheld a 2018 Mississippi state law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The ruling overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that previously protected a pregnant person’s right to an abortion.

However, as Sen. Shelley Moore Capito pointed out in her statement, the ruling does not create a federal ban on abortion, but returns the decision to the states.

“By overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court has returned this issue to the states to make their own determination. I support this decision, and I would expect West Virginia to support this decision as well. This ruling does not create a federal ban on abortion, as has been suggested by some of my colleagues. Many feel strongly on this issue, but I condemn violent rhetoric and threats towards the Supreme Court Justices. I will continue to oppose extreme legislation at the federal level, and will follow debates in state legislatures, including in West Virginia, on this issue.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito

Sen. Joe Manchin expressed disappointment at the ruling and stated his support for legislation that would codify abortion rights.

“I am deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. It has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years and was understood to be settled precedent. I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans. “As a Catholic, I was raised pro-life and will always consider myself pro-life. But I have come to accept that my definition of pro-life may not be someone else’s definition of pro-life. I believe that exceptions should be made in instances of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. 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.”
Sen. Joe Manchin

At the state level, Gov. Jim Justice applauded the ruling and said he will move to hold a special session to clarify West Virginia law on the issue of abortion.

“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. “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.”
Gov. Jim Justice

In his statement, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey expressed pride in supporting the ruling, and echoed Justice in a desire to see the state’s legislature act on the issue.

“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,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “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.” “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.”
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

Katie Quinonez is the executive director of Women’s Health Center of West Virginia in Charleston, the state’s only abortion clinic. She issued a statement on the decision saying the clinic would stop providing abortions immediately.

Quinonez clarified that the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia remains open and provides reproductive health services such as birth control, breast and cervical cancer screening, gender affirming care, pregnancy and parenting support, STI testing and treatment, and wellness exams.

“Roe has never been enough, but in states like West Virginia, it was the only thing protecting abortion access. Due to the inaction of our lawmakers to repeal the crime of abortion in our state code, it is impossible for our clinic to provide abortion. This will force West Virginians to travel hundreds to thousands of miles away from their home to access healthcare and will harm marginalized communities the most.”
Katie Quinonez, executive director of Women’s Health Center of West Virginia

Mike Pushkin, West Virginia Democratic Party Chair, issued a statement along with two of his colleagues.

“Make no mistake about it, this decision will make all abortions illegal in West Virginia with no exceptions to protect the life and health of the mother and no exceptions for the victims of rape and incest. If the Governor and the legislature fail to act to preserve these common-sense exemptions, women will pay with their lives.”
Mike Pushkin, West Virginia Democratic Party Chair

Danielle Walker, Democratic Party Vice Chair said simply,

“This decision is just radical and wrong.”
Danielle Walker, Democratic Party Vice Chair

Delegate Kayla Young, D-Kanawha, echoed Walker’s statement.

“This draconian decision puts women's healthcare on the ballot in November. We need to elect legislators who understand that reproductive decisions are best made by a woman and her physician, rather than the government.”
Kayla Young, D-Kanawha

In a quote tweet of Del. Young, Walker asked her followers to think of patients and victims, and said bodily autonomy did not belong to the government.

In a joint statement, Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, and Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said attorneys for the state legislature prepared for the decision for weeks, and will work to review existing statutes in the new context.

“We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today to affirm that every human life is precious. We stand strong with the majority of West Virginians who have shown us and told us they believe unborn children are entitled to the same rights as everyone, and we are ready to expeditiously take any necessary steps to ensure we continue to save and protect as many innocent lives as possible in West Virginia. Our legislative attorneys have been preparing for this decision for weeks. Abortion is addressed in numerous statutes in West Virginia Code, and now our attorneys will need to further review those statutes to determine how they apply in light of this decision. We will work with the executive branch to address any needs relating to our state’s abortion laws that may arise from today’s opinion.”
Senate President Craig Blair and Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw, via joint statement

In a Tweet, Rep. Carol Miller said she was pleased to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

Senator Mike Caputo, D-Marion, expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court, and said he remained proudly pro-choice.

I am so, so bitterly disappointed in our United States Supreme Court. The courts should be a place devoid of politics, but this decision and its majority opinions—both leaked and published—are overtly political. Protections that have been in place for women and pregnant people for fifty years have been overturned. We have lost legal protections from government control of personal medical decisions and a person’s right to choose their own future. Being a parent and a grandparent has been one of my greatest joys in life. It is one of the best choices my wife and I ever made. But it was just that—a choice. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not to be a parent. I believe every person should be able to control what happens to their body, and that decision should be made with a sober heart in the consultation of medical professionals—not politicians. I am proud to remain pro-choice. I encourage constituents who are angered, saddened, or moved by the SCOTUS decision to take those emotions to the polls in November.
Mike Caputo, D-Marion


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