June Leffler Published

Gov. Justice Signs New Abortion Law

With the West Virginia Legislature’s approval, and now Gov. Jim Justice’s signature, a new abortion restriction has become law.

The “Unborn Child with Down Syndrome Protection and Education Act” would prohibit patients from terminating a pregnancy based on the possibility that the fetus may develop a disability. Justice signed the bill Monday and the law will go into effect June 10 of this year.

“It just seems terribly discriminatory in my book,” Justice said.

Abortion providers will have to ask an each patient if they are choosing to terminate a pregnancy based on a potential disability. Providers will then have to submit a statement to the state confirming that is not the reason. Medical practitioners that don’t comply with this law could lose their license. Patients would face no penalties.

West Virginians for Life lobbied for this law, saying it would protect the lives of those with Down syndrome. Abortion providers and a state OB-GYN group say the law will undermine the trust between patients and doctors and further limit abortion access.

Gov. Jim Justice continues to slowly sign bills approved by the state legislature this year. Justice signed off on the state budget, with some line-item vetoes, last Friday.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.