Caroline MacGregor Published

West Virginia Legislature Outlaws Abortion


Updated Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

The West Virginia Legislature has now passed House Bill 302, outlawing abortion in West Virginia, with limited exceptions.

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 22 to 7 with 5 members absent. The bill then moved to the House of Delegates, which passed it by a vote of 77 to 17 with six members absent.

The bill included exceptions for fetal anomalies, medical emergencies and non-viable fetuses. It also has a provision in cases of rape or incest — with certain contingencies. Any abortion performed must be done so in a hospital within eight weeks for adults and 14 weeks for minors.

In instances of legal abortion, the procedure is limited to M.D.s and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine. Doctors who perform an abortion as part of a medical emergency would not be penalized.

There will be no felony penalties for doctors or pregnant women, but the law would make it a felony for anyone who performs an abortion who is not a licensed professional.

Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, questioned Majority Leader Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, about the bill’s impact as it would relate to attracting medical professionals and the potential loss of licensure for practicing obstetricians. Takubo is a doctor.

“I think it would be devastating, but I believe the bill also very clearly describes what the law intends, which is not to engage in abortion of a healthy fetus if it does not go to one of the exemptions of rape or incest, or if there is not a question of risk or harm to the mother,” Takubo said. “So currently, today, if a physician does something that is against the law, a physician will face and will likely lose their license.”

In reaction to today’s announcement, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, West Virginia Free and the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia released the following statement:

“After weeks of deal-making behind closed doors, the West Virginia Legislature
has banned abortion, subjecting half of the state’s population to second-class status and placing lifesaving health care out of reach for tens of thousands.”

Katie Quiñonez, executive director of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia said the passage of the bill is a huge blow to the state.

“West Virginians will now have to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their homes and incur massive costs to access essential, lifesaving care,” Quiñonez said.

The bill now heads to Gov. Jim Justice for his signature. Both chambers made the bill effective from passage.