The West Virginia legislature has passed a bill to ban abortions, protecting babies starting at conception. Once the House approves the Governor Jim Justice signs the measure into law, West Virginia will become the 16th state to ban abortions.
The state legislature is holding a special session on a few political issues, including abortion. Knowing that the state’s old abortion ban is tied up in courts, supposedly for lack of clarity, Governor Jim Justice called on the legislature to pass a new abortion ban that would stand up in court following the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
“From the moment the Supreme Court announced their decision in Dobbs, I said that I would not hesitate to call a Special Session once I heard from our Legislative leaders that they had done their due diligence and were ready to act,” Justice said in a statement. “As I have said many times, I very proudly stand for life and I believe that every human life is a miracle worth protecting.”
Justice said he wanted the legislature to produce a pro-life bill to “ensure a coherent, comprehensive framework governing abortions and attendant family services and support to expecting mothers to provide the citizens of this State more certainty in the application of such laws.”
Today, the state Senate took the first step.
House Bill 302 passed by a vote of 22-7, with five members absent.
The bill would ban abortions from being performed or induced unless they are recommended by the “reasonable judgement of a licensed medical professional” for reasons such as non-medically viable fetus, ectopic pregnancy or medical emergencies.
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The bill contains exceptions for victims of incest and sexual assault, with several stipulations, according to Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha.
Adults who are victims of incest and sexual assault will be able to seek an exemption to the law for up to eight weeks.
Adult victims must report the crime to law enforcement, and law enforcement must provide the report to the medical professional performing the procedure, Takubo said.
Minors may seek an exemption for up to 14 weeks, Takubo said.
“For this exception, at least one of the following must occur: either 1) a report of sexual assault or incest must be made to law enforcement or 2) the patient must obtain medial treatment for the sexual assault or incest by a licensed medial professional…” he said.
After the Senate vote, the state House approved the ban by a 78-17 vote. Delegates Jim Barach, Mick Bates, Chad Lovejoy, Carl Martin and Johnnie Wamsley did not vote.
The bill also also limits where abortions can be provided, restricting them to medical facilities licensed by the state Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification. That means the state’s only abortion business would have to close down and any abortions would to save a mother’s life would be done in an hospital which is better equipped to handle medical emergencies.
The bill would hold abortionists accountable for killing babies by revoking their medical licenses and criminal penalties come into play when a non-medical professional kills a baby in an abortion. Women are not subject to criminal penalties under the law.
The statewide pro-life group informed LifeNews ahead of the vote that it supports the legislation, even though it would have preferred stronger wording protecting more babies and more accountability.
“West Virginians for Life (WVFL) is happy to announce that it supports the updated version of HB 302, the bill to clarify abortion laws in WV. This bill, while not perfect, will protect most babies and their mothers from abortion. It provides for abortion in limited circumstances – life of the mother, medical emergencies, and reported rape and incest. It excludes ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, and IVF,” it confirmed.
“Thank you so much for working with us to protect unborn babies and their mothers during this historic moment in history,” it added.
“West Virginians have been committed to protecting unborn children and mothers from the horrors of abortion and now, in the Dobbs era, they have passed legislation to do just that. HB 302 is a strong pro-life bill that will protect babies and ensure mothers can get the care they need in the heartbreaking situation of an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or medical emergency – just like every other state with pro-life protections in place,” said Caitlin Connors, southern regional director for SBA Pro-Life America. “While the abortion industry ran to the courts to block West Virginia’s protections for life, the legislature has now made clear the will of the people in the Mountain State is with unborn babies and their moms. This law will save thousands of lives in West Virginia.”
As LifeNews reported, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, with a 6-3 majority ruling in the Dobbs case that “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion” — allowing states to ban abortions and protect unborn babies. The high court also ruled 6-3 uphold the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban so states can further limit abortions and to get rid of the false viability standard.
Chief Justice John Roberts technically voted for the judgment but, in his concurring opinion, disagreed with the reasoning and said he wanted to keep abortions legal but with a new standard.
Texas and Oklahoma had banned abortions before Roe was overturned and Missouri became the first state after Roe to protect babies from abortions and South Dakota became the 2nd. Then Arkansas became the third state protecting babies from abortions and Kentucky became the 4th and Louisiana became the 5th and Ohio became the 6th and Utah became the 7th and Oklahoma became the 8th and Alabama became the 9th. This week, Mississippi became the 10th and South Carolina became the 11th,Texas became the 12th with its pre-Roe law and Tennessee became the 13th.
Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia have old pro-life laws on the books but there is question about whether they are applicable and will be enforced.
Ultimately, as many as 26 states could immediately or quickly ban abortions and protect babies from certain death for the first time in nearly 50 years.
The 13 total states with trigger laws that would effectively ban all or most abortions are: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
“Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito wrote. “And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer authored a joint dissent condemning the decision as enabling states to enact “draconian” restrictions on women.
Polls show Americans are pro-life on abortion and a new national poll shows 75% of Americans essentially agree with the Supreme Court overturning Roe.
Despite false reports that abortion bans would prevent doctors from treating pregnant women for miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, pro-life doctors confirm that is not the case. Some 35 states have laws making it clear that miscarriage is not abortion and every state with an abortion ban allows treatment for both.