By LEAH WILLINGHAM Associated Press
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A protester who was forcibly ejected from the West Virginia House of Delegates gallery after disrupting debate on a bill to ban abortion earlier this month has been arrested more than a week after she and others protested the ban at the state Capitol.
Lindsey Jacobs, a 38-year-old attorney from Morgantown, was arrested Friday and charged with three misdemeanors: obstructing an officer, willful disruption of government process, and disorderly conduct against “the peace and dignity of the state,” according to a copy. of the arrest warrant that he shared with The Associated Press. If she is convicted, misdemeanors carry a fine of up to $500 and/or up to a year in jail.
Jacobs, who runs advocacy programs for a nonprofit legal services organization, was removed from the House gallery on September 13 as she listened to lawmakers discuss the legislation, signed into law on September 16 by Republican Gov. John Deer. Jim Justice, which prohibits abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with few exceptions. The day the ban became law, a warrant was issued for Jacob’s arrest.
Morgan Switzer, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Capitol Police, confirmed Monday that two people protesting the abortion ban had been arrested, but said the department needed more time to prepare an official comment. . He did not immediately explain why it took him more than a week to arrest Jacobs.
During the debate, Republican Del. Margitta Mazzocchi said that people who want to protect themselves against pregnancy can buy emergency contraception, known as “Plan B” pills, without a prescription at drugstores such as Walgreens.
“Not if you’re poor,” Jacobs yelled at lawmakers, followed by shouts from others sitting in the gallery.
Jacobs said she was frustrated listening to Mazzocchi’s speech because she felt the lawmaker was overlooking that the pills cost between $40 and $50, an amount she said is “cost prohibitive for a lot of people.”
House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, who was presiding over the plenary session, asked people in the gallery to remain quiet while lawmakers went about their business. As the screaming continued, he asked security to remove Jacobs. She refused to move and said she let her body go slack as Capitol Police led her out of the gallery by taking her in her arms.
“Don’t just sit there while they take away your rights,” she yelled as she was dragged out of the gallery.
Capitol police did not arrest her at the time and let her go and go downstairs, where she met a group of protesters who congregated outside the chamber doors for at least an hour, staying until the bill was passed. the bill.
Another protester who spoke while lawmakers were in session was arrested and charged on the spot and escorted out of the building.
In the days after lawmakers passed the bill, a video of Jacobs being dragged out of the gallery began circulating on social media. Jacobs said he was getting a work call at 9 am Friday at his home in Morgantown, about 125 miles (201 kilometers) from Charleston, when she heard a knock on the door. It was the state police and they had a warrant for his arrest.
She was herded into the back of a police patrol car and taken to the state police headquarters for processing. A county magistrate settled her on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. Her court date has not yet been scheduled, she said.
Days after the arrest, Jacobs said he is still in shock.
“I don’t know how to process the fact that the state can come after you days, weeks after you allegedly did something wrong, and especially when they literally had me in their hands,” he said.
She said that leading up to the day of that protest, she and other protesters felt growing frustration that the public was not given enough opportunity to voice their opinions about the ban. In the only public hearing held for the bill, people were given just 45 seconds to speak. People who refused to comply were escorted by security.
“I wish I could better articulate the way it feels to sit back and watch the state disenfranchise me and others that we’ve had all our lives,” he said Monday. “Sitting there and casually seeing them and I think cruelly talking about abortion in really clinical terms, it made it very obvious to me that my life is less important than someone else’s life.
“We can all disagree, certainly disagree, with his interpretation of when life begins. But it is maddening beyond words that I have to describe and it also makes me feel and continues to make me feel very powerless. ”
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