June Leffler Published

W.Va. House Advances 15-week Abortion Ban


A 15-week abortion ban has passed the West Virginia House of Delegates. It will need the Senate’s approval and the governor’s signature before it becomes law.

House Bill 4004 says any physician or other medical practitioner that performs an abortion beyond 15-weeks could lose their license. There are exemptions when a patient’s life is in danger or the fetus has little chance of surviving. The bill’s lead sponsor is Del. Ruth Rowan, R-Hampshire.

Democrats presented an amendment that would have made exceptions for rape or incest. That was struck down.

“If we believe that life starts in the womb then it is our obligation to protect and defend life regardless of the circumstances surrounding conception,” said Del. Kayla Kessinger, R- Fayette County.

The vote was 81-18, mostly along party lines. Democrat delegates Brent Boggs, Nathan Brown, Ed Evans and Ric Griffith joined Republicans in supporting the anti-abortion measure. Republican Del. Joe Ellington, a practicing OBGYN in Princeton, joined most Democrats in opposing the measure.

The West Virginia chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes the bill, saying it would subvert the patient-doctor relationship.

West Virginia already has a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. The only abortion clinic in the state, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia in Charleston, does not currently perform abortions beyond 18 weeks of pregnancy. Some abortions are also performed in hospitals, often later in pregnancies, and might be affected by the ban.

Correction: A previous version of this story said Women’s Health Center does not provide abortions beyond 16 weeks. The clinic actually performs abortions up to 18 weeks.

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