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Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios.

West Virginia voters will decide in November's general election whether to add an amendment to their constitution that would remove abortions as a constitutional right.

The big picture: West Virginia is one of six states with only one abortion clinic, joining Kentucky, North and South Dakota, Mississippi and Wyoming.

What they're saying: Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, told Axios that lawmakers "are doing everything in their power" to close clinics down. He said there are "extreme politicians" in states that are beginning to feel emboldened in their fight against abortion because "they think it's in their political interest."

The other side: Steven Aden, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel at Americans United for Life, told Axios that the "assertion that in some states only a single abortion provider remains because of onerous government regulation is completely false.” Aden said clinics are closing for two reasons:

  1. "Shoddy substandard providers that cannot comply with reasonable health and safety regulations."
  2. "Market forces. Abortion facilities are closing all over America as a result of the dramatic drop in demand for abortions."
What's happening:
Kentucky

Kentucky banned a common abortion procedure, known as "dilation and evacuation," NBC reported.

  • The ACLU argues that this "would result in 'extinguished access' to abortions,'" NBC reports.
  • Beck said the proposed law joins other efforts to restrict the clinic: one law required an ultrasound before having an abortion, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said in 2017 that the clinic had an insufficient transfer agreement with local hospitals. Per NPR, the clinic "came within days of closing."
  • Per NBC, "a hearing on the ACLU's preliminary injunction request was set for June 5."
West Virginia

Voters will be deciding whether or not to add to their constitution: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion," per the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

  • Beck said it's "an effort by politicians to strip away legal protections and set the stage for attacking the clinic with future legislation."
Mississippi

In March, Mississippi's House and Senate passed through a bill that bans abortion after "15 weeks after their last menstrual cycle," the L.A. Times reported. Governor Phil Bryant signed it into law, and it was immediately contested by the state's last clinic.

  • Beck said this joins other efforts by the state "to close down the clinic and eliminate abortion access."
  • Flashback: Governor Phil Bryan signed a bill into law in 2012 that, per PBS, "would have required abortion clinic doctors to secure special privileges to admit patients into local hospitals." A federal court ruled against that in 2017, PBS reported.
North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming
  • These three states also have just one clinic.
  • Beck told Axios these are the tip of the iceberg: While there isn't on-going litigation in these states "to try and close down the last clinic," lawmakers are "trying to attack abortion in other ways."

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
14 mins ago - Health

Why waiving vaccine patents might be a bad idea

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It will take more than waiving patent protections for coronavirus vaccines — which the Biden administration now says it supports — to fix the gaping global divide in access.

Why it matters: Waiving drug companies' intellectual property rights risks setting a bad precedent for future investment in new drugs. And that risk may not be worth it without additional steps to meaningfully increase the availability of shots across the world.

Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Coronavirus infections in the U.S. are now at their lowest levels in seven months, thanks to the vaccines.

The big picture: The vaccines are turning the tide in America's battle with the coronavirus. Deaths and serious illnesses have dropped significantly, and now cases are falling too — an important piece of protection for the future, if we can keep it up.

2 hours ago - World

India sets new COVID world record as oxygen demand jumps seven-fold

COVID-19 patients being treated with free oxygen at a makeshift clinic in Indirapuram, Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo: Rebecca Conway/Getty Images

India has seen demand for oxygen jump "seven-fold" as the country set a new world record for daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday, per AP.

By the numbers: India's health ministry reported 412,262 new infections, taking the official tally past 21 million, and 3,980 deaths from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours. The official death toll now stands at 230,168. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher.