HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – A popular Hulu show and a city council meeting aren’t normally something talked about in the same conversation, but that was the case this week in Huntington, West Virginia.
Huntington City Council member Tia Rumbaugh displayed and explained symbols of the abortion-rights movement at the council’s meeting on Monday, Sept. 26 to make a point about abortion laws in West Virginia.
One of those symbols was a costume from the “Handmaid’s Tale,” a novel and now popular television series, which depicts a dystopian future in which women are dominated by men.
“It seems like every symbol, every issue around abortion is controversial that there’s no right answer, no one symbol that can unify all of us, and if we can’t be unified at least all of us can speak out,” she said.
In addition to the outfit, Rumbaugh also brought a coat hanger which she says is also controversial but represents a time when abortions were not legal and women were forced to take drastic and sometimes deadly actions to end their pregnancies.
The final item she brought was a green bandana which became a symbol of the movement in Latin America by the organization Catholics for the Right to Decide.
“It is a new symbol of hope, of perseverance and unity on a global scale,” she said at the meeting.
In response to her demonstration, Rumbaugh says she has received some backlash. Some people told her the demonstration was “insensitive,” while others said a public meeting wasn’t the right time or place to address the issue.
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“If not now when and if not in this manner what manner can we educate our constituents, our residents?” Rumbaugh asked. “I have a very small voice and my voice is only the amplification of everyone else’s voices within our community.”
At least one council member stood in support for Rumbaugh.
“She spoke during ‘good and welfare’ about the recent abortion law in West Virginia and to be honest I thought it was a beautiful expression of her first amendment right,” said Holly Smith Mount, chairwoman of the Huntington City Council.
Rumbaugh said she won’t be wearing the “Handmaid’s Tale” costume to another meeting, but she will continue to wear the green bandana as a symbol to speak up and stand up for women’s rights.
West Virginia’s governor signed into law a sweeping abortion ban with few exceptions earlier this month, a bill that several members of the Republican supermajority said they hope will make it impossible for the state’s only abortion clinic to continue to offer the procedure.
“It is going to shut down that abortion clinic, of that I feel certain,” Republican Sen. Robert Karnes said on the Senate floor, amid shouts from protesters standing outside the chamber doors. “I believe it’s going to save a lot of babies.”
Under the legislation, rape and incest victims would be able to obtain abortions at up to eight weeks of pregnancy, but only if they report to law enforcement first. Such victims who are minors would have until 14 weeks to terminate a pregnancy and must report to either law enforcement or a physician.
Rape and incest victims would have to report the assault within 48 hours of getting an abortion, and a patient must present a copy of a police report or notarized letter to a physician before the procedure can be performed.
Abortions also would be allowed in cases of medical emergencies.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.