Abortion-Rights Supporters Campaign Against Proposed W.Va. Abortion Restrictions

August 19, 2013 — The abortion-rights group WVFree on Thursday launched a "Twitter storm" in response to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's (R) request for comments on proposed abortion restrictions, the Charleston Gazette reports (Kersey, Charleston Gazette, 8/15).

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia is promoting the restrictions. The group started the campaign after filing a lawsuit in June on behalf of a woman who alleges that a physician at a Charleston-based abortion clinic -- Women's Health Center of West Virginia -- continued with an abortion procedure even after she requested he stop because of severe abdominal pain.

The lawsuit prompted Morrisey in June to launch an investigation into the practices and policies of the Women's Health Center and Kanawha Surgicenter, another Charleston abortion clinic (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/24). The two clinics declined to answer Morrisey's questions, which, among other things, asked them how often they were inspected, how providers ensure they are complying with best practices and what affiliation they have with the National Abortion Federation (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/8).

Morrisey opened a public comment period, which ran through Friday at 5 p.m. Specifically, he asked "interested stakeholders" and the general public to discuss various "relevant topics," including state educational materials on abortion; gestational age limits and informed-consent standards; reasons why various medical practices, abortion clinics and hospitals face different regulatory treatment; how the states' abortion laws compare with those elsewhere; and regulations for health clinics generally and abortion clinics in particular.

'Twitter Storm,' Rally

WVFree Executive Director Margaret Chapman said the social media event was organized "to send a message to the attorney general that West Virginians are paying attention to his attacks on women's health."

According to the Gazette, abortion-rights groups and supporters across the country participated in the event on Thursday afternoon. For example, the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia tweeted, "This abortion regulation is unnecessary, politically motivated, and will make quality health care less available."

Chapman also said the social media event helped generate "excitement" about an upcoming rally on Aug. 20 to oppose the regulations. WVFree, Planned Parenthood, the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the West Virginia Nurses Association and Fairness West Virginia are hosting the rally (Charleston Gazette, 8/15).

Chapman added, "By launching an inquisition [against the two clinics], the attorney general is fulfilling a right wing campaign pledge to protect life ... but that doesn't have a place in the attorney general's office" (Sánchez, Salon, 8/15).