Lawsuit: WVa abortion ban irrational, unconstitutional

Feb 1, 2023, 4:43 PM | Updated: 6:06 pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An abortion provider filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to overturn West Virginia’s near-total ban, saying it is unconstitutional, irrational and causes irreparable harm to the state’s only abortion clinic and its patients.

The lawsuit asks for a halt to the four-month-old abortion ban while the case is heard in federal court. Republican Gov. Jim Justice on Sept. 16 signed a bill passed earlier that week making West Virginia the second state to enact a law prohibiting the procedure since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling overturning its constitutional protection.

The law requires abortions to be performed by a physician at a hospital — a provision that at least two Republican lawmakers have said was intended to shut down abortions at the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia. It has provided the procedure since 1976 and was the state’s sole abortion clinic.

Under the law, providers who perform illegal abortions can face up to 10 years in prison.

According to the lawsuit, the law “severely restricts the circumstances in which abortion can be provided and imposes new, irrational requirements on how abortion care can be provided.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Women’s Health Center by the American Civil Liberties Union and its West Virginia chapter, Mountain State Justice, and the Cooley law firm. It said the law’s care restrictions “are out of touch with modern medicine, lack any rational justification, and are not logically connected to any legitimate government interest and are therefore unconstitutional” under the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection rights.

The Charleston clinic suspended abortions shortly after lawmakers passed the bill and provided West Virginia women with resources to book appointments out-of-state and funding to help cover travel and the procedure, clinic Executive Director Katie Quiñonez said.

According to the lawsuit, the law’s care restrictions are “continuing to inflict irreparable harm not only on Plaintiffs’ mission, purpose, and ability to practice their profession and their constitutional rights, but also on the health and wellbeing of their patients and West Virginians seeking access to this essential care.”

The lawsuit names West Virginia Board of Medicine President Ashish P. Sheth and board Secretary Matthew Christiansen as defendants. An after-hours message left Wednesday evening with the board seeking comment on the lawsuit was not immediately returned.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office was ready to defend the law, which “reflects the will of the majority of the citizens of the state as relayed by their elected representatives in the State Legislature.”

The state’s abortion ban has exemptions for medical emergencies and for rape and incest victims until eight weeks of pregnancy for adults and 14 weeks for those under the age of 18. Victims must report their assault to law enforcement 48 hours before the procedure. Minors can report to the police or a doctor, who then must tell police.

When he signed the legislation, Justice described it as “a bill that protects life.”

Quiñonez said the law “pushes essential abortion care out of reach.”

“With each day this ban remains in effect, we are forced to turn patients away because politicians took away their power to make the best medical decisions for themselves during pregnancy,” she said in a statement. “Whether it’s in the statehouse or courthouse, we will never stop fighting to ensure our patients can access essential care they need.”

More than a dozen states now have abortion bans, though most were approved before the Supreme Court ruling and took effect once the court threw out the constitutional right to end a pregnancy.

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


Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday...

Associated Press

Some in Houston facing no power for weeks after storms cause widespread damage, killing at least 4

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday, May 17. Thunderstorms hit the southeastern part of Texas, killing at least four people.

9 hours ago

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer...

Associated Press

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer

A man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attacking the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer.

10 hours ago

audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents blocked...

Associated Press

GOP advances Garland contempt charges after White House exerts executive privilege over Biden audio

The move to release audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents was blocked on Thursday by the White House.

1 day ago

Asylum processing for new migrants: Changes could come soon...

Associated Press

The Biden administration is planning more changes to quicken asylum processing for new migrants

The Biden administration is planning to quicken the asylum processing for new migrants as an interim step rather than an executive order.

2 days ago

Record-setting rally for U.S. stocks reflects inflation slowing down...

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares advance after another round of Wall St records

The S&P 500 jumped 1.2% to top its prior high set a month and a half ago. This move reflects a record-setting rally for U.S. stocks.

2 days ago

This combo image shows President Joe Biden, left, Jan. 5, 2024, and Republican presidential candida...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump agree to hold presidential debates in June and in September

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have agreed to hold two campaign debates, on June 27 hosted by CNN and on Sept. 10 hosted by ABC.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Lawsuit: WVa abortion ban irrational, unconstitutional