ACLU and Women’s Health Center of West Virginia Sue to Ensure Abortion Is Accessible

April 25, 2020 10:00 am

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and the law firm of WilmerHale took emergency legal action today on behalf of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia and its patients to prevent the state from using the guise of the COVID-19 crisis to prevent people from obtaining abortion care.

This litigation brings the number of states in which abortion clinics have had to sue to ensure abortion access can continue during the COVID-19 crisis to nine, joining Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology have said that abortion is a time-sensitive, essential medical procedure that cannot be delayed.

“Government response to the spread of COVID-19 must be grounded in science and public health, not politics,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “As leading medical experts have recognized, abortion is essential, time-sensitive health care and West Virginia’s attempts to prevent patients from accessing abortion care do nothing to protect people from the virus. It just stops people from getting this essential care.”

“We need officials who are 100 percent focused on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and keeping people safe from it,” said Joseph Cohen, executive director, ACLU of West Virginia. “Instead, our state is cynically exploiting this crisis to push a radical political agenda. It’s unconscionable and it’s dangerous.”

“As health care professionals, we put our patient’s health and safety first, and we are committed to doing everything we can to protect them, our staff, and our community while providing access to essential health care,” said Katie Quinonez, executive director, Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, the plaintiff in the case. “Even during a pandemic, pregnant people require health care — whether it is abortion care or prenatal care and childbirth services — and that care cannot be delayed until after the crisis is over.”

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