West Virginia lawmakers OK abortion ban with few exceptions

Sep 13, 2022, 2:08 PM | Updated: Sep 16, 2022, 7:09 pm
Abortion rights supporters demonstrate outside the Senate chamber at the West Virginia state Capito...

Abortion rights supporters demonstrate outside the Senate chamber at the West Virginia state Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Charleston, W.Va., as lawmakers debated a sweeping bill to ban abortion in the state with few exceptions. (Chris Dorst/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

(Chris Dorst/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s Legislature passed a sweeping abortion ban with few exceptions Tuesday, approving 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.

West Virginia joins the ranks of states moving to ban abortion in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to end the constitutional right to privacy that protected abortion rights nationwide. That left it to states to decide whether abortion should remain legal, which in turn has ignited intense state-level debates, especially in states controlled by Republicans, about when to impose the ban, whether to carve out exceptions in cases involving rape, incest or the health of the woman giving birth, and how those exceptions should be implemented.

The West Virginia bill now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who has signed several anti-abortion bills into law since taking office in 2017. Lawmakers resumed debate on the bill Tuesday after failing to come to an agreement in late July, giving up the chance for the state to become the first to approve new legislation restricting access to abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June removing its protected status as a constitutional right.

Both the Senate and the House of Delegates speedily approved the bill, after several hours of debate. Dozens of protesters wearing pink shirts reading “bans off our bodies” and holding signs reading “abortion is healthcare” staged a rally in the Capitol rotunda while lawmakers were in session.

Some of the group sat in the gallery as legislators discussed the bills, with some shouting down to legislators in frustration as they spoke in support of the bill. Legislative leadership asked that the onlookers remain silent as lawmakers conducted business. At one point, at least one protester was escorted out of the building by police.

Lawmakers inserted several provisions they said were specifically targeted at the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, which was the state’s first abortion clinic when it opened in 1976 following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade case. It has existed as the state’s sole abortion clinic for years, making it the ever-increasing target of anti-abortion lawmakers and protesters.

The bill states that surgical abortions can only be performed at a state-licensed hospital by a physician with hospital privileges. Anybody else who performs an abortion, including nurse practitioners and other medical professionals, could face three to 10 years in prison. A physician who performs an illegal abortion could lose their medical license.

Pregnant people who obtain illegal abortions will not face any form of prosecution under the bill, however.

Kaylen Barker, spokesperson for the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, said the clinic will not be shutting down, even if the staff is no longer able to provide abortions. Like many clinics that perform abortions, the facility did not offer the procedure daily.

Most days are dedicated to services like gender-affirming hormone therapy, HIV prevention and treatment and routine gynecological care — cervical exams, cancer screenings — mostly for low-income patients on Medicaid with nowhere else to go.

Democratic Sen. Owens Brown, West Virginia’s only Black senator, spoke against the bill before it passed the Senate. He said when he looks around at his fellow lawmakers, he sees a body that is overwhelmingly comprised of white, middle-aged to elderly men who are middle-class or above.

Brown compared groups of men passing legislation that overwhelmingly impacts women to laws that were passed by white lawmakers when slavery was legal in the U.S. He said “all laws are not good laws made by men.”

“That’s somewhat irrational in many ways to be able to apply a law that will never apply to you,” he said to his fellow lawmakers. “It’s easy for you to sit there and do that because you will never have to face the consequences of your actions.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Abortion rights supporters demonstrate outside the Senate chamber at the West Virginia state Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Charleston, W.Va., as lawmakers debated a sweeping bill to ban abortion in the state with few exceptions. (Chris Dorst/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)
            
              Abortion rights supporters demonstrate outside the Senate chamber at the West Virginia state Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Charleston, W.Va., as lawmakers debated a sweeping bill to ban abortion in the state with few exceptions. (Chris Dorst/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)
            
              Abortion rights supporters demonstrate outside the Senate chamber at the West Virginia state Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Charleston, W.Va., as lawmakers debated a sweeping bill to ban abortion in the state with few exceptions. (Chris Dorst/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)
            
              Abortion rights supporters demonstrate outside the Senate chamber at the West Virginia state Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Charleston, W.Va., as lawmakers debated a sweeping bill to ban abortion in the state with few exceptions. (Chris Dorst/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

AP

FILE - This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Gonzalo Lopez....
Associated Press

Reports: Many security lapses led to Texas inmate’s escape

HOUSTON (AP) — A multitude of security lapses such as inadequate strip searches, poorly applied restraints, a staffing shortage and an environment where correctional officers became complacent created the conditions that led to the May escape of a Texas inmate, resulting in the deaths of five people, according to two reviews of the incident that […]
22 hours ago
A F-2 fighter of Japan Air Self-Defense Force is seen at Tsuiki base, Fukuoka prefecture, southern ...
Associated Press

Japan to jointly develop new fighter jet with UK, Italy

TOKYO (AP) — Japan announced Friday that it will jointly develop its next-generation fighter jet with the U.K. and Italy as Tokyo looks to expand defense cooperation beyond its traditional ally, the United States. The Mitsubishi F-X fighter jet will replace the aging fleet of F-2 that Japan previously developed with the United States. Japan’s […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Oregon store allegedly selling psychedelic mushrooms raided

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A store that had been openly and illegally selling psychedelic mushrooms in Portland, Oregon, was raided by police on Thursday, authorities said. In 2020, Oregon became the first state in the country to legalize the use of psilocybin for people 21 and older in a controlled, therapeutic environment under the supervision […]
22 hours ago
A photograph taken using a drone shows Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium after owners the Gl...
Associated Press

Man United owners not taking semi-annual dividend

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United’s owners have not taken their semi-annual dividend for fiscal year 2023, according to the Premier League club’s quarterly financial reports. The decision preceded the Glazer family’s recent announcement that it would consider putting the club up for sale. Dividends amounting to $44 million were paid to the Glazers and […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Singer Celine Dion performs during her Courage tour in Quebec City on Sept. 18, 2019. Dion h...
Associated Press

Celine Dion cancels shows because of stiff person syndrome

Celine Dion has put a halt on all performing after being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder. In an emotional video messages posted in French and English on Thursday on Instagram, Dion said stiff person syndrome was causing spasms that affect her ability to walk and sing. “Unfortunately, the spasms affect every aspect of my […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Residents who were displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in La Plain...
Associated Press

UN aid chief: Gangs control about 60% of Haiti’s capital

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Close to 60% of Haiti’s capital is dominated by gangs whose violence and sexual attacks have caused thousands to flee their homes, the U.N. humanitarian chief in the Caribbean nation said Thursday. Ulrika Richardson said that has left nearly 20,000 people in the capital facing “catastrophic famine-like conditions” as a cholera […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
West Virginia lawmakers OK abortion ban with few exceptions