West Virginia law banning abortions due to disability goes into effect
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A new West Virginia law that goes into effect Friday prevents patients from having abortions because they believe their child will be born with a disability.
The ban, which was signed by Republican Gov. Jim Justice in March, provides exceptions for medical emergencies or in cases where a fetus is “non-medically viable.”
It was one of the most controversial bills passed in the 2022 legislative session. Its supporters said it would help protect people with disabilities. Justice posted on Twitter his signing of the “Law for the Protection and Education of the Unborn Child with Disabilities” to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.
He then said the bill gave “deserved respect to our community with Down syndrome”.
Others say the proposal was just another tool to further limit abortion in West Virginia, which is currently banned after 20 weeks.
West Virginia has only one clinic that provides abortion services, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia in Charleston.
In a statement, the clinic’s executive director, Katie Quinonez, called the ban “yet another example of politicians interfering in personal reproductive health decisions.”
“People seek abortion for many reasons, and each of those reasons is valid and should be respected,” she said. “Patients need to be able to be open and honest with their healthcare provider.”
Quinonez said Thursday the clinic is waiting for the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health to provide guidance on reporting and certification requirements for the law.