Hundreds of women - and men - rallied in the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday with outstretched arms holding pink and purple signs that read "I Stand with WV Women," "Get a uterus Morrisey & then complain," and "No politicians in the exam room."
The rally was in response to recent actions by new state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey regarding abortion regulations in West Virginia.
Morrisey has publicly questioned the state's two abortion clinics and asked the public to weigh in on the controversial subject. He says the public input will help him decide whether more regulations are needed.
WV Free, a pro-choice group, hosted the rally in conjunction with several others.
Morrisey, whose campaign website says he will "fight to protect the unborn," sent letters questioning the abortion clinics' practices and knowledge of regulations in June.
Margaret Chapman Pomponio, WV Free executive director, said women's health providers follow the same regulations as other medical providers, and the attorney general is singling them out to advance a political agenda.
"We do believe that women's health providers shouldn't be singled out and targeted," she said.
"That's what makes his motive so clear here. Out of the hundreds of medical malpractice suits filed in West Virginia every year, he has focused on one that hasn't even been litigated yet and used it as an excuse to launch his personal political agenda."
The state's two abortion clinics - Women's Health Center on Charleston's West Side and Kanawha Surgicenter in Kanawha City - are neither licensed nor inspected by the state. The doctors who practice in those clinics are licensed, however.
The state Department of Health and Human Resources also doesn't inspect other kinds of health care facilities such as family practitioners, dentists or physical therapists.
The West Virginia Board of Medicine also acts as a governing body for individual physicians, including abortion providers.
The National Abortion Federation, a professional association of abortion providers in North America, offers training and services to its members and conducts inspections at member sites every three to five years, President and CEO Vicki Saporta has said.
Both clinics are members of the federation.
While membership is voluntary, Saporta said reputable providers choose to join. Saporta noted that both West Virginia clinics are in good standing.
Pomponio said part of the mission of the rally was to make it clear that abortion clinics are indeed regulated.
"Women's health care providers shouldn't be singled out and treated differently with overregulation," Pomponio said.
"We hope the attorney general will listen to the people of West Virginia and hear our call to back off of women's health. It's not something to be politicized and really made a mockery of from the Attorney General's Office.
"As advocates of women's health, we steadfastly believe that regulation and quality delivery of care is of the utmost importance, so we're trying to send a message that these clinics are regulated like other health facilities."
She joined a host of other speakers: