Lewisburg abortion rally a fundraiser for Women's Health Center of West Virginia

“We’re gonna make sure that everyone who is anti-abortion hears what the hell we have to say!”

That’s what Del. Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia, told a crowd of more than 100 people who rallied together in downtown Lewisburg on Tuesday to protest the state’s potential passing of a “no-exception” abortion law. Walker then led the crowd in a resounding chant of “My body, my choice!”

“Mountaineers are supposed to be free,” Walker continued. “But we have some imposters in the People’s House, and we need to vote them out!”

The rally, which also served as a fundraiser for the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia – the state’s only functioning abortion clinic – featured a musical performance from folk-rock band MA’AM, as well as remarks from Walker and several others.

“Although, as of today abortion is still legal in West Virginia, we are not naive,” said Ramsie Monk, director of development for the Women’s Health Center, at the start of the rally. “We know that it is only a matter of time before anti-abortion politicians gather at the Capitol to strip our rights, and attempt to take away our right to bodily autonomy.”

Also on hand for the rally were House of Delegate candidates Heather Hill and Paul Detch, both of whom are Greenbrier County-based Democrats. Hill is running against Del. Todd Longanacre, R-Greenbrier while Detch will face Del. Mike Honaker, R-Greenbrier, who was appointed to the House by Gov. Jim Justice after former delegate Barry Bruce resigned the seat halfway through his term. Both Longanacre and Honaker voted in favor of HB 302, the House’s failed “no exceptions” abortion bill.

“I was speaking with a woman recently who was switching from being a Republican to being a Democrat,” Detch told the crowd. “Of course I was encouraging her, but she made a statement that I took minor-issue with. She said that abortion was a ‘woman’s issue.’”

“I disagree,” Detch noted. “Abortion is a human rights issue.”

Detch, whose comment prompted one of the evening’s largest ovations, went on to explain how the diagnosis of an untreatable, fatal illness compelled him and his wife to seek abortion-care shortly after the original ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade.

“I mention this to you in detail because my opponents (Honaker and Longanacre) want to bring more children into the world who will suffer this same fate,” Detch added. “And they still want to claim the moral high-ground.”

“Roe v. Wade was a gift from God,” Detch further said. “I believe that there is a god in Heaven – that he looks down and listens to the prayers of grieving parents, that he listens to the cries of pain from dying children, that he can see the injustice of women being treated unequally from men. God gave Roe v. Wade as a gift. That is my message and I want to deliver it in Charleston.”

“If you believe in the adage that ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,’ then Todd Longanacre, Michael Honaker and Vince Deeds need to feel the full heat of your fury,” Detch concluded.

Deeds is the Republican candidate for the 10th Senate District which includes Greenbrier, Fayette, Monroe, Nicholas and Summers counties. The seat is held by Sen. Stephen Baldwin, a Democrat.

Heather Hill, a clinical therapist and licensed social worker, was next to speak, saying, “I’m tired of these other candidates talking about ‘freedom first.’ There is no freedom without medical freedom, or freedom for all. I’m mad and I’m sad, and you should be too.”

Hill then went on to share several experiences which she had during her 12-years as the only abortion counselor at the Women’s Heath Center in Charleston.

“I think about the 11-year-old girl who was raped by the 37-year-old when she came into my office,” Hill said, with an abundance of emotion in her voice. “I held her hand walking down the hall to the O.R., and that state trooper – his hands shaking while he was waiting for the DNA evidence. This little girl from Boone County, her whole dream was to come to Charleston, but not in that way.”

“But now that little 11-year-old is going to be having her rapist’s baby,” Hill continued. “She’s not gonna report it. She didn’t want to report this. And then there was the woman whose husband stabbed her four times in the face. She had to fake her own death, and their three-year-old little boy faked his death, and waited until his father shot himself. She was my patient. And now, she may not be able to (have an abortion).”

Walker, who delivered the evening’s keynote address, concluded by saying, “How many family members, loved ones, co-workers, coal workers, school teachers, first responders are we going to lose? A ban on abortion doesn’t mean that it goes away, it just means that we don’t have safe, accessible, affordable abortions.

“We have to show up,” Walker said. “We have to make sure (we have continued access) to safe, accessible, affordable abortion in West Virginia, West ‘By God’ Virginia, in best Virginia.”

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