West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced Friday that he has signed the highly restrictive abortion ban into law and is effective immediately.
“I’ve done what I said I would do. I’ve signed. It’s done. It’s absolutely done,” Justice said of the legislation that state lawmakers sent him earlier this week .
The sweeping ban prohibits abortion outright, with exceptions for rape and incest victims within a limited period of time – up to eight weeks for adults and 14 weeks for children – and in cases of medical emergencies. The justice on Friday called these provisions a “reasonable and reasonable exception”.
But even for those patients, the new law poses a number of obstacles. Rape and incest victims or their doctors must report their assault to law enforcement 48 hours before their procedures. Additionally, abortions must be performed by a physician in a hospital—something doctors say is medically unnecessary and will limit access even further.
Robert Carnes (R), one of the bill’s proponents, said, “It’s going to close that abortion clinic, I’m sure,” in reference to West Virginia’s only remaining abortion clinic during the state Senate vote. ” ,
Reproductive rights activists slammed Justice for the way she rationalized passing the bill.
“Whether it is ‘appropriate’ to re-traumatize victims of sexual assault who need an abortion, forcing them to report to law enforcement and show a police report to their doctor, before they need them.” Can you get care?” Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson tweeted Friday in Justice. “Is it ‘logical’ to have patients wait until they are on the verge of death to have a life-saving abortion?”
The criminal penalties mentioned in the Bill will become effective in 90 days. Doctors who perform abortions that are banned under the law can be jailed for up to a decade.
West Virginia already had strict abortion policies at Place Wade in June, allowing states to make their own laws blocking the process.
Abortion patients in West Virginia already had to undergo state-directed counseling, discouraging them from terminating their pregnancies and then being forced to wait 24 hours before seeking treatment. Patients are also prohibited from using telemedicine to receive abortion care, and parents of minors seeking abortions must be notified before receiving the procedure.