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West Virginia Abortion Ban Heads to Governor's Desk for Signature


An abortion ban has passed the West Virginia state Senate and is now heading to the desk of Governor Jim Justice for a signature.

The bill passed on Tuesday with 22-7 in the state Senate and 77-17 in the state House.

The legislation, HB 302, will outlaw the procedure except in cases of rape, incest, a non-viable fetus, or to save the life of the mother.

To receive the exception, the mother, if over 18, has to report the sexual assault or incest to a law enforcement agency and the procedure must be conducted before she is eight weeks pregnant. Minors, incompetent, or incapacitated adults will be able to get an abortion within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

“In all cases where a report of sexual assault or incest against a minor is made,” the legislation explains, “the agency or person to whom the report is made shall report the sexual assault or incest to the Child Abuse and Neglect Investigations Unit of the West Virginia State Police within 48 hours.”

The bill states that treatment for a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, intrauterine fetal demise or stillbirth, and accidental or unintentional injury or death of an embryo or a fetus by a medical professional is not considered an abortion.

The Senate and House of Delegates attempted to pass the legislation in July, but could not agree upon criminal penalties for abortionists. Ultimately, the criminal penalties were removed.

Instead, doctors who perform an illegal abortion will be subject to having their licenses removed — unless it is a partial-birth abortion.

“A licensed medical professional who knowingly and willfully performs, induces, or attempts to perform or induce an abortion, with the intent to violate the provisions of §16-2R-3 of this code, is subject to disciplinary action by his or her applicable licensing board,” the legislation states. “If the licensing board finds that the licensed medical professional has knowingly and willfully performed, induced, or attempted to perform or induce an abortion, with the intent to violate the provisions of §16-2R-3 of this code, the licensing board shall revoke medical professional’s license.”

If a doctor performs a partial-birth abortion, and thereby kills a human fetus, they will be guilty of a felony and will be fined between $10,000 and $50,000, or imprisoned for up to two years, or both fined and imprisoned.

Anyone other than a doctor who performs an abortion, including nurses, doulas, and physician assistants, could face prison time.

“Any person other than a licensed medical professional, as defined in §16-2R-2 of this code, who knowingly and willfully performs, induces, or attempts to perform or induce an abortion, as defined in §16-2R-2 of this code, is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned in a state correctional facility for a determinate sentence of not less than three nor more than 10 years,” the bill says.

Planned Parenthood opposed the legislation in a statement.

“This cruel ban insults West Virginia doctors, endangering their patients’ lives while subjecting them to appalling government surveillance, and threatens to put other medical providers in prison simply for providing health care,” Alisa Clements, the director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said in a statement.

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