West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s investigation into the state’s two abortion clinics has some reproductive rights activists wondering if the public official is overstepping his bounds or “doing the bidding” of an anti-choice group.
WV Free Executive Director Margaret Chapman Pomponio told the West Virginia Gazette that it is “unsettling” how in line the attorney general’s inquiry into the abortion providers—which he says stems from the Kermit Gosnell case and a suit involving a doctor who allegedly performed an incomplete abortion on a patient—is with the agenda of the anti-choice Family Policy Council of West Virginia. That group recently launched a campaign, called Illuminate, that is described as an effort to “provide support and encouragement to lawmakers in the passage of reasonable health and safety regulations of an otherwise unregulated abortion industry and hold accountable those lawmakers who refuse to ensure the health and safety of our state’s sisters and daughters.”
But language on the Illuminate section of the group’s website suggests the campaign may have a different end goal. “The fight to end abortion is now,” the site says. “The deadline for comments is Friday, August 16, 2013. These comments are crucial in measuring how much ending abortion matters to West Virginians.”
The Family Policy Council of West Virginia has been working since May to get Democratic West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to order a health and safety review of the state’s abortion industry, citing the Gosnell trial as the impetus for action.
The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the group supports the attorney general’s inquiry into the clinics and “recently announced it would solicit comments for Morrisey about abortion law while calling for more information about the ‘dangerous and secret work’ done at the clinics.”
“Attorney General Morrisey and a small faction of legislators appear to be doing the bidding of a fringe fundamentalist group,” Chapman Pomponio told RH Reality Check. “What began as the attorney general’s inquisition of women’s health providers has turned into a full-blown political attack on reproductive rights. The attorney general and his supporters are using the same right-wing playbook that was used in Texas, Virginia, and North Carolina.”
“If the Family Policy Council and the attorney general had their way, they would ban abortion altogether,” continued Chapman Pomponio. “They are very upfront about this. So to say this is about protecting women’s health is perhaps the greatest lie. If this were about women’s health, we’d be behind it. It’s not.”
Champman Pomponio encourages those who support reproductive rights to contact the attorney general’s office to provide their own comments regarding the attempt to regulate clinics.
“It’s a systematic effort to erode women’s rights that is being driven in states across the country,” she said. “It’s come to our door now, and we reject it.”