FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS)– West Virginia’s Legislature passed an abortion ban which still awaits the Governor’s signature before it becomes law.
In the legislation, women must give birth in the state, unless they can leave for an abortion or get approval under guidelines set by state legislators.
The ban offers some exceptions, and some lawmakers and prosecutors say the exceptions are confusing. For example, they said it is unclear if a sexual assault victim could be prosecuted if she did not want strangers near her body after the sexual attack.
According to the Legislature, in order to avoid the invasive procedures, a sexual assault victim who is pregnant must immediately report the incident to authorities police in order to get permission to terminate the pregnancy.
Other women said the ban compromises their health care and places their lives at risk.
Twenty-three-year-old Macy Shelton fears for her health since the West Virginia Legislature passed the abortion bill, and with Congress now considering a ban on abortion after 15 weeks. Shelton has a diastasis, and the two halves of her abdomen are held together by suture and biological mesh.
“I worry that a pregnancy would cause me a lot of damage to my insides,” she said, “so yeah, I don’t know if I were to become pregnant if I would fall under the category of being ‘in danger enough.”
Young women like Shelton, who moved to the Mountain State, tell us abortion access is the norm for their generation. The idea of being made to give birth shocks them.
“It just seems like a really old-fashioned type of oppression we’re experiencing in the year 2022,” said Shelton. “So it feels a lot like the rug is being pulled out from under you.”
Registered Nurse Valerie Spitzer said abortions are a vital part of health care for those who can become pregnant, something she knows first-hand.
“I myself had to have an abortion in my early twenties,” Spitzer explained. “I don’t regret it.”
“It was a safe procedure that I was able to access with my primary care provider, who made arrangements for me,” she recalled. “I was able to go to college.”
Both Shelton and Spitzer said the person most affected by a sexual assault and pregnancy should make decisions about their lives.
“A woman should be able to decide what is going on inside of her body,” said Shelton.
Spitzer encouraged young women who need abortion care in the state to reach out to a trusted adult and to access safe abortion care.