Civics

March For Abortion Rights In West Virginia

In November 2021 Black By God published an article “Young Women ‘Match Harassment’ at Abortion Clinic with Motivational Messages” 🗞 In 2022 they share that story on the WV Capitol steps.

Young Women “Match Harassment” at Abortion Clinic with Motivational Messages By Leeshia Lee

Below is the article originally published in Black By God in November 2021

Charleston, W.Va, Nov.2021 The Women’s Health Center of West Virginia has seen its fair share of heated exchanges. The little building has been the center of some huge confrontations, including one that made it to Charleston City Council. The corner of Greendale Avenue on the city’s West Side has become a battleground for those who oppose a woman’s right to choose.

As patients arrive, they are often forced to listen and walk through intense scrutiny to enter through the doors of the tan building trimmed with green. The extreme precautions patients hachelle Mechailve to take was the catalyst for 21-year-old Ann Mi of Charleston, and her friend Kiyia Brandon, 20, also of Charleston, decided to “match the harassment.” Their version was the complete opposite; it was filled with positive and encouraging sentiments.

On October 14th, 2021, they headed to the clinic with posters and anecdotes of motivation. From the moment they showed up, the scene was intense. With protesters on the empty lot across the street demanding clinic goers to change their minds, they stood outside of the clinic hoping to encourage the women in their right to choose.

Mechail felt that the anti-abortion protestors simply wanted to see who they could “piss off.”

The girls filled their posters with uplifting messages like “I love you” to remind the women entering that they were beautiful despite the ugly things they were witnessing.

“They tried to degrade us for just supporting other women. It was just hectic, ” said Kiyia, who respects others' opinion; however, she thought the way those protesting in opposition went about the situation was all wrong. “They always go about it with hate and anger versus compassion and understanding.” Michelle agreed with her, reiterating that the protesters “always responded with hatred.” She describes the scene as “animosity filled.”

Although the young women tried to keep a happy, cheerful vibe on their side of the street, they felt it was met with resentment and a lack of respect. Both girls agreed that knowing that people twice their age could bring that much hatred and negativity simply because they disagreed was disheartening. In addition, hearing the protesters shout out to the women to the clinic for services that they would “burn for their choices'' was disgusting to them. The young ladies say they tried to have conversations with the protesters but could not find a middle ground that was not overly aggressive.

Michelle stated that the protesters did not know what the women were there for yet still chose to harass them. The clinic offers a multitude of services for women outside of abortion, ranging from birth control to gynecologic wellness care.

The back and forth with those against the clinic seemed frustrating, but both girls found joy in knowing that they provided comfort to women entering the building. A man came back outside to let the girls know their signs and positive messages greatly impacted his wife who was still in the clinic. It made the day's frustrations worthwhile.

“That was something I honestly wasn’t expecting to happen, but it did,” Mechail and Brandon reflected, “And it just blew my mind. The number of women that we could have possibly encouraged that day.”

Story Update: Since this article was published, protestor presence has gone back to “normal” with just the everyday “regular” agitators. As of December 31, anti-abortion agitators purchased the property across the street from the Women’s Health Care Center, claiming it as “God's Property” in an effort to continue to harass patients and staff permanently. There is a great need to support abortion rights and encourage those seeking health care rights in West Virginia. Unfortunately, the legislature introduced a ban on 15-week abortion in addition to other anti-abortion bills.

On Saturday, Jan 22nd, 2022, Crystal Good, founder of BBG, spoke at the March for Abortion Rights at the West Virginia State Capitol located in Charleston, WV.

Good is no stranger to speaking in support of women's health care. You can read her story in Teen Vogue by Britanny Macnamara's article, “Crystal Good Tells Abortion Story During Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation Hearings.”Good said that after her testimony, she noticed the news in West Virginia was very different from a national narrative.

“I received national attention, but at home, the coverage was all on social media. I was thankful for the coverage in the Gazette on my story. Still, overall the coverage led me to look into how abortion was covered in West Virginia,” Good said. “I created BBG because so many stories about Black life, including topics that range from abortion to recovery, go untold or center white voices.”

Good was excited to speak at the event but she said she was arguably more excited to share the mic with the young women whose stories she published in the second edition of Black By God this past November. Good asked organizers if she could share her time with two young women whose advocacy has encouraged her: Kiyia Brandon and Ann Michelle Mechail.

Hear what they had to say HERE

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