Investigations Religion

West Virginia Women Speak Out About Extremist Anti-Choice OB-GYN

Sharona Coutts

Women in West Virginia are speaking up against Dr. Byron C. Calhoun, the prominent anti-choice OB-GYN who holds senior positions in West Virginia’s public health care and education institutions.

Read more of our articles on False Witness Dr. Byron Calhoun here.

To view the full False Witnesses gallery, click here.

Women in West Virginia are speaking up against Dr. Byron C. Calhoun, the prominent anti-choice OB-GYN who has been caught out lying about the risks of abortion on more than one occasion.

In addition to being affiliated with multiple extremist anti-choice groups, Calhoun holds senior positions in West Virginia’s public health care and education institutions.

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He is vice chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at West Virginia University, and serves as the only maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC)—where many West Virginia women go for prenatal and birthing care.

That means Calhoun is the only expert available at the state’s major teaching hospital for women with high-risk pregnancies, including women carrying twins or triplets, as is the case for two of the authors of these open letters, who have granted Rewire permission to publish them.

The four authors are Margaret Chapman Pomponio, Lesly Messina, Christine Teague, and Jessica Gladwell. All are West Virginia residents. Pomponio, Messina, and Teague are affiliated with WV Free, a local reproductive rights organization. Gladwell, who is pregnant with triplets, is not affiliated with WV Free.

They addressed their letters to key decision makers at West Virginia University and CAMC, including Andrew Weber, vice president and administrator at CAMC; John Linton, the dean of the School of Medicine at WVU’s School of Medicine-Charleston; and Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean at WVU Health Services. So far, none of the women has received a response, they told Rewire.

In preparation for this article, Rewire reached out to both West Virginia University and CAMC. Neither replied to our requests for comment or to our questions about whether they have initiated any investigation or disciplinary proceedings against Calhoun.


“Calhoun is singlehandedly driving patients away from health care close to their homes, creating anxiety and possibly medical problems due to travel time; families suffer as a result.” —Margaret Chapman Pomponio

“My intention in writing this letter is not to open a discussion of the politics of abortion, but rather act in my duty as a woman and as a healthcare provider myself to express disdain.” —Christine Teague

“There is no question that he is dangerous to women’s health.” —Lesly Messina
“I never dreamed that my need for access to high-risk maternity care would place me in the care of a physician whose knowledge about the source of my employment causes me panic.” —Jessica Gladwell

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