The right to abortion as a political issue 2:23
Washington (WABNEWS) West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced Friday that he has signed a bill that bans almost all abortions, except in certain medical situations or in cases of rape or incest.
The GOP-led legislature passed House Bill HB 302 in a special session on Tuesday, making West Virginia the second state to pass a restrictive abortion bill after the U.S. Supreme Court The United States reversed the case Roe v. Wade.RELATED
The ban takes effect immediately, and the bill’s criminal penalties will take effect in 90 days.
HB 302 allows exceptions for rape or incest up to eight weeks of pregnancy for adults and the first 14 weeks of pregnancy for minors. The incident must be reported to law enforcement at least 48 hours before the abortion.
It also allows exceptions if the embryo or fetus is nonviable, if there is a medical emergency, or if it is an ectopic pregnancy, a rare case in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus and cannot survive.
“I have done exactly what I said I would do: I approved it,” Justice, a Republican, said at a news conference Friday morning.
Justice said he is “proud to have passed it and believe with all my heart that it does one thing that is absolutely so important: it protects life.”
HB 302 stalled in July when lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on key details of the bill. This week, when the legislature returned, abortion rights advocates criticized lawmakers for voting to ban abortions “after weeks of discussions behind closed doors.”
Until July, abortion was legal in West Virginia up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, after a state court judge said she had decided to block a 19th-century state abortion ban.
That month, Justice called lawmakers back into special session and, at the last minute, added abortion to the legislative agenda.
“I have said over and over again that I stand firmly for life,” Justice said Friday. “But I have also said that we have to have reasonable and logical exceptions.”
“And I really, truly believe that there are reasonable and logical exceptions that were brought to us. Now, with all of that, this is such a volatile bill, so volatile. There are people who go, anywhere, who are probably not going to get everything. and everything they wanted,” he said.
A person other than a licensed medical professional who performs an abortion in violation of the law would be subject to a felony and up to 10 years in prison.
Under the law, miscarriages, stillbirths, in vitro fertilization, and medical treatment that results in the accidental or unintentional death of a fetus are not considered abortions. The law does not prevent the sale and use of contraceptives. Abortion providers are required to report abortions and are required to notify the parents of a minor before an abortion is performed.
The law defines medical emergencies as a “condition or circumstance that so complicates a patient’s medical condition as to necessitate an abortion to avert a serious risk of death to the patient or a serious risk of substantial life-threatening physical deterioration.” of an important bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions.
Alisa Clements, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, argued that the law “will be deadly for the people of our state.”
“The narrow exceptions in this bill are so narrow and restricted that they will make it extremely difficult for people in vulnerable situations, including minors and survivors of sexual assault, to get the care they need,” Clements said in a statement.