Updated Sep 16, 2022 - Health

West Virginia enacts near-total abortion ban

Picture of a green sign that says "abortion is our right"
Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) on Friday announced that he has signed into law a near-total abortion ban that is now enforceable in the state.

Driving the news: The law bans abortion except in cases of "medical emergency," or in cases of rape or incest, as long as the incident has been reported to law enforcement at least 48 hours before the procedure.

Details: The law also creates additional restrictions for minors, including requiring that a guardian be notified of the abortion, as well as an additional 48-hour wait period.

  • A doctor who performs an abortion in violation of the law could lose their medical license. Additionally, if a health provider who is not allowed to perform an abortion under state law, like nurses and physician assistants, provide or assist in one, they could face up to 10 tears in prison.

What he's saying: "I’ve signed it, it’s done. It’s absolutely done," Justice said in a press conference. "I’ve said over and over and over I stand strongly for life."

Abortion rights advocates have decried the law.

  • “This abortion ban will be deadly for the people of our state," said Alisa Clements, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.
  • "There is nothing more extreme than a law that strips people of their freedom. The limited exceptions in this bill are so narrow and so tightly restricted that it will make it extremely difficult for people in vulnerable situations ... to get the care they need. Abortion bans cost lives, and people will be denied life-saving care as a result of this government-mandated trauma," Clements added.

What happens now: The ban will make it impossible for West Virginia's only abortion clinic to continue to offer the procedure.

Go deeper: Where abortion has been banned now that Roe v. Wade is overturned

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