Cumberland Times-News

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August 20, 2013

Abortion rights group rallies at W.Va. Capitol

State doesn’t regulate procedures

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — About 200 abortion rights advocates rallied Tuesday at the West Virginia Capitol in an effort to counter recent calls for the state to begin regulating the procedures, fearful abortions could become more expensive and difficult to obtain.

West Virginia is one of 11 states that doesn’t require a licensed doctor to perform an abortion. Because the state doesn’t license the providers, it also doesn’t inspect facilities.

The state’s two abortion clinics, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia and Kanawha Surgicenter, are in Charleston.

In June, Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey began investigating whether any regulatory changes are needed. That investigation followed the filing of a lawsuit by The Family Policy Council on behalf of a woman who claims a Women’s Health Center doctor performed an abortion over her objections. Itai Gravely says she asked Dr. Rodney Stephens to stop because she was having severe abdominal pain. The lawsuit also claims the doctor left the fetus’ head inside the uterus.    

Morrisey has asked the state’s two abortion clinics to answer a series of questions about their practices and their policies for ensuring patient safety. However, both clinics declined to answer his questions in detail.

Morrisey also solicited public comments on his website about several broad areas of interest dealing with abortion, including informed consent standards, gestational age limits and the state’s abortion laws compared with others.

“Statutes require informed consent and parental notification, but we have not located any law that requires abortion procedures in West Virginia to be performed by licensed physicians or any law that sets a gestational age limit governing when an abortion procedure may be performed,” the notice seeking comment says.

In the capitol rotunda, protesters chanted slogans toward Morrisey’s office that were loud enough for anyone passing by to hear. The rally also occurred on a day state lawmakers were in the building for interim meetings. Organizers said Morrisey is pursuing a right-wing conservative agenda and that he’s more concerned with politics than women’s safety.


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