The GOP-led legislature passed House Bill 302 in a special session on Tuesday, and a restrictive West Virginia abortion bill was upheld by the US Supreme Court in Roe v. It made it the second state after Wade was repealed.
The ban will take effect immediately, with the bill’s criminal penalties taking effect in 90 days.
HB 302 allows exemptions for adult rape or incest cases within eight weeks of pregnancy and for minors within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. 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 non-viable, there is a medical emergency, or an ectopic pregnancy, in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus and is a rare survival event.
“I did exactly what I said – I signed it,” Justice, a Republican, said at a news conference Friday morning.
Justice said he was “proud that I signed it and I think it does something absolutely so important: it protects life.”
Since July, abortion has been legal in West Virginia up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, after a state judge ruled to block the state’s abortion ban dating back to the 1800s.
That month, Justice called the members of parliament to a special session and, at the last minute, added abortion to the legislative agenda.
“I have said time and time again that I am firmly pro-life,” Justice said Friday. “But I also said that we must have reasonable, reasonable and logical exceptions.”
“And I really think there are reasonable, logical exceptions that have been brought to us. All in all, this is a volatile, volatile bill. There are people — on both sides — who probably won’t get anything and everything they wanted,” he said.
A non-licensed medical practitioner who performs an abortion in violation of the abortion law would be guilty of a felony and face up to 10 years in prison.
According to the law, abortions, menstrual deliveries, in vitro fertilization and medical treatment resulting in the accidental or unintentional death of the fetus are not considered abortions. The law does not prevent the sale and use of contraceptives. Abortion providers must report abortions and notify the minor’s parents before performing the abortion.
It defines a medical emergency as: “A condition or circumstance that complicates a patient’s medical condition to such an extent that an abortion is necessary to prevent the patient’s serious risk of death or serious life-threatening physical impairment of a major bodily function, including the condition. psychological or emotional.”
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 limited exceptions in this bill are so narrow and so limited that it will make it very difficult for vulnerable people – including minors and survivors of sexual assault – to get the care they need,” Clements said in a statement.
This story has been updated with additional reaction and background information.