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Justice Plans To Call Special Session To Clarify W.Va. Abortion Laws

Gov. Jim Justice speaks at his virtual press briefing, June 26, 2020
Office of Gov. Jim Justice
Gov. Jim Justice says the state needs to know how to enforce unclear abortion laws.

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, it sent abortion law decisions back to the states.

In an opinion filed Wednesday, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey concluded an 1882 law making abortion a felony was valid, but Morrisey also said superceding court rulings call for legislative clarification.

A lawsuit was filed in Kanawha County Wednesday, contending the old law is not valid due to the numerous conflicting laws passed since the 1882 law went into effect. The suit asks for a temporary restraining order leading to a permanent injunction.

In his regular COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice said he will call a special legislative session on abortion "very soon."

He said he agrees with Morrisey’s opinion, but realized there’s an urgent need to know how to enforce the abortion laws now on the books.

“We need to move for further and more detailed clarification,” Justice said. “The legislature needs to amend this law to get absolute clarification.”

West Virginia House and Senate leaders have said in released statements that their legal teams have been working for months on clarifying the state’s abortion laws.

Government Reporter, ryohe@wvpublic.org, 304-634-8123

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