Emily Rice Published

Steve Williams Calls For Abortion Ballot Measure

Hand puts paper ballot into voting boxEUDPic/Adobe Stock

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams has launched a petition calling for Gov. Jim Justice to include discussion of an abortion ballot measure during the special session in May. 

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June of 2022, and West Virginia lawmakers convened a special session in September of that year in which they passed the state’s near-total abortion ban or the Unborn Child Protection Act.

The Unborn Child Protection Act, also known as House Bill 302, outlaws abortions in West Virginia except in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, or instances of rape and incest that are reported to law enforcement in a timely manner. Any abortion performed must be done so in a hospital within eight weeks for adults and 14 weeks for minors.

“Women’s reproductive health certainly isn’t a right and it’s at risk,” Williams said. “And particularly the physicians that care for these women placed their own medical license at risk in assisting with women and there’s a level of uncertainty.”

Now, Williams, a Democrat running to be governor, is calling on Justice to include reproductive freedom on the agenda for the upcoming legislative special session. 

Williams said if lawmakers believe the will of the people is to uphold the abortion ban, then they should have no trouble putting it to a vote.

“This is not this is not a matter of being pro-life or pro-choice,” Williams said. “This is a matter of freedom, and we’re just simply suggesting let’s put freedom on the ballot.”

The ballot measure, if approved by a Republican governor and Republican majority House and Senate, would allow voters the chance to vote on abortion rights in the state.

Williams referred to former President Donald Trump’s stance on abortion: to let states decide

“I agree with what former President Trump said, is that let’s put it in the hands of the people and let the people speak,” Williams said.

Voters in seven states — California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Ohio and Vermont have approved abortion rights measures after they were put up for a vote. Several more states are expected to put the issue up for a vote this year as well.