Eric Douglas Published

Legal Filings Continue Over W.Va. Abortion Law

A gavel next to a sign that reads the word abortion.Dollar Photo

In response to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of West Virginia’s abortion law, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Friday filed a motion to intervene.

On Feb. 1, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia filed a suit against the president and secretary of the West Virginia Board of Medicine. That suit claims the state’s abortion law violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit did not name the state or the attorney general as defendants, but the state has a “manifest legal interest in defending the constitutionality” of West Virginia’s abortion law.

“We have a strong case and we are ready to defend West Virginia’s abortion law to the fullest,” Morrisey said. 

The original suit asked for an injunction blocking the entire ban until the lawsuit could be heard in court. It said the state abortion ban is both “irrational” and “unconstitutional.” 

One complaint is that House Bill 302 was passed through the West Virginia Legislature in less than 24 hours. 

Morrisey issued a statement almost immediately after the Feb. 1 filing.

“This law reflects the will of the majority of the citizens of the state as relayed by their elected representatives in the state legislature,” Morrisey said. “I will stand strong for the life of the unborn and will not relent in our defense of this clearly constitutional law.”

On Sept. 13, 2022, the West Virginia Legislature convened in a special session and passed House Bill 302, outlawing abortion in West Virginia, with limited exceptions. In instances of legal abortion, the procedure is limited to M.D.s and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine.

West Virginia had a law on the books banning abortion since before it became a state. The original code was enacted in 1849. The state’s lone abortion clinic, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, joined a group of reproductive rights activists in quickly filing suit to have that 19th century law enjoined.

Under House Bill 302, if any portion of the law is determined to be unconstitutional, the entire law must be struck down.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of West Virginia, Mountain State Justice, and the Cooley law firm filed the lawsuit in the ​​U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on behalf of Women’s Health Center of West Virginia.

Read a copy of the motion.