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Governor of West Virginia Signs Abortion Restriction Into Law

November 11th, 2022

A medical conscience clause was recently inserted into an Ohio budget bill to allow healthcare workers to refuse service to LGBTQ patients. Now it is the subject of multiple lawsuits.
West Virginia’s governor signed an abortion restriction into law, making the state the second to restrict abortion since the fall of Roe.

The Governor of West Virginia recently announced he had signed an abortion restriction into law which prohibits almost all abortions in the state, with exceptions for some medical emergencies, incest and rape. The legislature passed the measure, House Bill 302, during a special legislative session that made West Virginia the second state to pass a restrictive abortion measure after the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Stalling of the Abortion Restriction

The House bill stalled when legislators could not reach an agreement about important aspects of the abortion restriction. Then, when legislators reconvened for the special session, supporters of abortion rights criticized legislators for voting to prohibit abortion following several weeks of discussions in private meeting rooms. 

Since July 2022, abortion had been legal in the state of West Virginia within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. This came after a West Virginia state court judge struck down a state-wide ban on abortion that had existed since the 1800s. The state’s governor then convened legislators back for a special session and added the abortion restriction to the legislative agenda at the last minute.

The Impact of the Legislation

This abortion restriction becomes immediately effective, while the legislation’s criminal penalties take approximately 90 days to become effective. HB 302 admits exceptions when incest or rape are involved, up to eight weeks of pregnancy in the case of adults and 14 weeks in cases where the victim is a minor. A reporting requirement also exists, and the incident must be reported at least 48 hours before an abortion. The regulation also permits exceptions for situations where an embryo or fetus is not viable, situations when a medical crisis occurs, or ectopic pregnancies, which happen when the fertilized egg does not survive because it attaches itself outside the uterus.

Under the regulation, an individual other than a licensed medical professional who performs an abortion that violates the law will be subject to felony charges as well as a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Under the abortion restriction, various procedures and pregnancy outcomes including in-vitro fertilization, miscarriage, medical treatment that unintentionally leads to the death of a fetus, and stillbirths are not viewed as abortions.

The regulation also does not impact the sale or usage of contraceptives in the state.

Response to the Abortion Restriction

West Virginia’s Governor, Jim Justice, who is a Republican, stated that he did what was necessary by approving and signing the legislation. The governor also commented that he is proud of his decision to sign the measure and believes that it takes the important step of protecting life. The governor also commented that he stands for life but that the state also needs exceptions that are reasonable as well as logical to the state’s abortion restriction. Lastly, the governor commented that the subject was a difficult one and that not everyone involved in the abortion debate was likely to get everything they wanted. 

Meanwhile, a director at Planned Parenthood has commented that the regulation will represent a deadly change for the people of the state because its exceptions are narrow and tightly restricted.

Continue Reading the Universal Life Church’s Blog

With the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion has become one of the most hotly debated subjects that positions some religious beliefs against other religious beliefs and those rights afforded to individual bodily autonomy. The Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on documenting the most noteworthy cases involving abortion. Our blog strives to document these cases in a way that examines both sides of each argument.

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