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Health News

West Virginia lawmakers advance new abortion bill after pre-Roe ban blocked

todayJuly 26, 2022

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(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) — Lawmakers in West Virginia have advanced a new bill severely restricting abortion after a pre-Roe ban was blocked in court.

The bill, passed Monday by the state’s House Health and Human Resources Committee and Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee, bans abortion at virtually every stage of pregnancy.

There are no exceptions for rape or incest, after an amendment to the bill was voted down by both committees.

However, there are exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger, if the fetus is “non-medically viable” or for an ectopic pregnancy, which is when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside of the uterus.

The bill also explicitly states that miscarriages and stillbirths are not considered an abortion.

What’s more, the bill makes performing abortions a felony punishable by three to 10 years in prison. Women who have abortions will not be criminalized under the bill.

The bill will now go to the House floor and will have a public hearing held on it Wednesday.

The West Virginia Legislature was initially called into a special session Monday to consider Gov. Jim Justice’s proposal to reduce personal income tax rates.

But that morning, as lawmakers were gaveling in, Justice amended the call and said he would also be asking lawmakers “to clarify and modernize the abortion-related laws currently existing as part of the West Virginia Code.”

“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’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last month, the state’s sole abortion clinic — Women’s Health Center of West Virginia — said in a statement on Facebook it would not be performing the procedure “until further notice” due to fear of prosecution under an 1882 law on the books.

The law made performing abortions, including administering drugs for medication abortions, a felony punishable by three to 10 years in prison.

However, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tera Salango issued a preliminary injunction against the ban, meaning the state’s only clinic can perform the procedure again.

In her decision, Salango agreed that the law had effectively been superseded by newer laws, such as a 2015 law allowing abortions up until 20 weeks’ gestation.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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