West Virginia becomes 2nd state to pass near total abortion ban

Women attend a candlelight vigil in Washington on June 26, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, ending federal abortion protections. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 14 (UPI) -- West Virginia legislators have passed a near total abortion ban, paving the way for it to become the second state to outlaw the medical procedure in the wake of Roe vs. Wade being overturned by the Supreme Court.

Both houses of the Republican-controlled legislature passed House Bill 302 on Tuesday, with the House voting 77-17 in its favor of the abortion ban followed by a 22-7 vote in the Senate.


The bill now heads to the desk of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice who has previously signed other abortion restrictions into law and has vowed to "always defend the right to life for very unborn child."

If he does sign off on the bill, West Virginia will be the second state to institute such stringent restrictions on the medical procedure following the Supreme Court revoking federal protections for abortion protected by the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.


Last month, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb made his state the first when he signed his near-total abortion ban into law.

West Virginia's bill bans all abortions from implantation with narrow exceptions put in place to terminate pregnancies the result of rape and incest and if the life of the pregnant person is at risk.

The law stipulates that adults whose pregnancies are the result of rape or incest are allotted up to eight weeks to terminate their pregnancies and minors 14 weeks though a police report must be filed.

Doctors who violate the ban are subject to have their medical license revoked. If anyone but a licensed doctor performs an abortion, they could face criminal sentences between three and 10 years' imprisonment.

"For years, the people of [West Virginia] have fought tirelessly in defense of the unborn. Today, we see our effort turned into life-saving law," Sadie Shields, the legislative director at West Virginia for Life, said in a statement.

Civil liberty and women's rights groups, however, were quick to chastise the state legislators over their passing of the bill, with Planned Parenthood accusing them of having "subverted the democratic process to ram through this extreme bill."

"This ban puts out-of-touch politicians who don't even understand pregnancy in charge of people's personal medical decisions," Alexis McGill Johnson, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "We cannot and will not stand by as they manipulate the legislative process to vote away their constituents' fundamental rights and plunge us deeper into a nationwide public health crisis.


"West Virginians deserve better."

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia also called on the public to urge Justice to veto the law when it hits his desk.

"After weeks of discussions behind closed doors, the West Virginia Legislature has voted to ban abortion. It's impossible to overstate what a dark day this is for liberty and for the state," it said on tweeted following the votes.

The bill was passed after the conservative-leaning Supreme Court in June overturned federal protections for abortion provided by the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.

It also comes amid a multiyear push by Republican-led states to either restrict or outright ban abortion.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were 108 abortion restrictions enacted in 19 states last year. As of late June when Roe vs. Wade was overturned, 43 abortion restrictions in 12 states had been enacted, it said.

On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced legislation to ban adoration nationwide after 15 weeks of gestation.

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