CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – Abortion is a hot topic this week with the U.S. Supreme Court hearing a case that could overturn decades-old legislation and potentially end access to legal abortion. Here is what officials in West Virginia have to say on the topic.

Background

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Wednesday signaled it would uphold Mississippi’s 15-week ban on abortion and may go much further to overturn the nationwide right to abortion that has existed for nearly 50 years.

The fate of the court’s historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion throughout the United States and its 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe, probably won’t be known until next June.

The Associated Press via Nexstar Media Wire, Justices signal they’ll OK new abortion limits, may toss Roe

What WV officials are saying

Many West Virginia officials and organization leaders raised alarm at the possibility of Mississippi being allowed to uphold its ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark said if anti-abortion extremists are successful in front of the court, there will be an immediate impact on West Virginia and throughout the U.S.

If the state of Mississippi succeeds today in that ask — to overturn Roe — it is a matter of when, not if, other states across the country will pass their own legislation to make abortion inaccessible, policy that will affect marginalized communities more than any others.

Loree Stark, ACLU-WV Legal Director

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Our reproductive rights hang in the balance. At the same time, there are extremist politicians in the West Virginia Legislature who are bent on passing cruel Texas- and Mississippi-style abortion bans that would be devastating to West Virginians.

WV FREE CEO, Margaret Chapman-Pomponio

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a statement on Dec. 1, calling for legislation to allow states to choose their own rules on abortion.

It is long past time to overturn the flawed Supreme Court decisions that have led to the tragic deaths of over 60 million unborn childrenOur Constitution should never have been interpreted in a way that lets it override the states’ compelling interest to protect innocent life. I am proud to join with Mississippi and other voices who are advocating for the sanctity of human life.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, statement on Dec. 1

In July, Attorney General Morrisey joined a 24-state brief supporting life in the Dobbs case. The brief urged the Supreme Court to support the right of individual states to regulate abortion and promote the sanctity of life within their borders. He also posted this Tweet.

We hope the Court will uphold the precedent set by Roe v. Wade, but we know that Roe has never been enough. Abortion still remains out of reach for far too many. No one should have their personal medical decisions controlled by judges, politicians, anti-abortion vigilantes seeking financial gain, or anyone else.

As our state’s only abortion provider, we will never stop providing safe, legal abortion and helping people access the abortions they need. Now is the time for bold action – donate to abortion funds and independent abortion providers, and urge Congress to pass federal legislation to protect abortion access.

Katie Quiñonez, Women’s Health Center of West Virginia (WHCWV) executive director

This moment is the culmination of a decades-long takeover of the federal judiciary by right-wing billionaires, corporate special interests, and dark-money groups that have spent tens of millions of dollars to confirm Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett and then try to influence the Court’s decisionmaking. This is a pivotal moment for the U.S. Supreme Court to demonstrate that it decides cases based on precedent and rule of law, not politics or ideology.

Julie Archer, project manager, West Virginia Citizen Action Group (CAG)

West Virginia Senator Shelly Moore Capito has not yet released a statement concerning the Mississippi Supreme Court abortion case. However, in February of 2020, she voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Today, the Senate failed to move forward on a bill that would guarantee that babies born alive after an attempted abortion receive appropriate medical care. The Senate also failed to move forward on a bill that would protect life after 20 weeks. I co-sponsored and voted for both of these bills, and I’m disappointed that neither received the 60 votes necessary to advance towards passage.

Shelley More Capito statement, Feb. 25, 2020

Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the next calculated step in fully eliminating access to abortion – not just in Mississippi but for all Americans. It is also the very next step WV extremists were preparing for in 2018 with the creation and passage of the first and only amendment to the West Virginia Constitution, which denies protections or funding for abortion services. We know West Virginians need more access to health care – not less – and abortion restrictions disproportionately impact women, people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and other historically excluded communities as a means to further deny basic human rights that are essential for social, economic, and racial equality.

Meredith Hartery, president of the West Virginia National Organization for Women (NOW)

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has also not released a statement on the recent U.S. Supreme Court case, but according to an article from the Hill, he did refuse to vote yes to the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill without banning the use of federal funds being used on abortions.

Manchin has signaled he would not support the package without the amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortions in most cases and has been included in annual government funding bills since it was introduced by then-Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the 1970s.

ARIS FOLLEY, The Hill, Manchin’s ‘red line’ on abortion splits Democrats (Oct. 6, 2021)

All people, including LGBTQ people, deserve the chance to decide for themselves if, when, and how they become pregnant. It’s crucial that the Supreme Court protects a person’s right to make this important decision for themselves. Restrictive anti-abortion laws are particularly harmful for LGBTQ people, who often depend on the other reproductive health services abortion providers offer. Transgender people still report alarming rates of discrimination and harassment when accessing the care they need, and many times abortion providers also offer the only culturally competent and compassionate care in a given area. If Roe is overturned, it will be a public health crisis for our community.

Andrew Schneider, Fairness West Virginia executive director

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has made it clear in past statements that he personally is very pro-life. He made a statement when he voted in support of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in March of 2020.

This is an absolute no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. I’ve said for a long time, even back before I took office as Governor, that I would support measures like this because every human life – born or unborn is precious and truly a gift from God.

If I had my way, I would stand up here and say I stand for life in all cases, all the time. It’s unbelievable that we even have to go through this process for something that seems like it’s just common sense. But, at the same time, we should be really proud that we’re defending the lives of our most vulnerable. To God above, that baby is worth it. 

Today, we’re going to put a stake in the sand and say – for us, at least – we stand for life and we stand for the right stuff.

Governor Jim Justice in a press release, March 2, 2020