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Special Session To Clarify W.Va. Abortion Laws May Not Come ‘Very Soon’

Abortion Courts
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All sides agree West Virginia's abortion laws need clarification.

On June 30th, Gov. Jim Justice said there was an urgent need to know how to enforce the state’s abortion law, and promised to call a special session ”very soon.”

During his Friday coronavirus briefing, Justice said there was “no way” the House of Delegates would be ready to debate abortion laws - even by the legislative interim meetings set for late July.

“To call a special session and then say, well, we're not ready - that's not going to happen. That's a waste of time,” Justice said.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed an opinion June 29th, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade sent abortion law decisions back to the states. He concluded that a 19th Century West Virginia law making abortion a felony was valid, but said superseding court rulings call for legislative clarification.

A lawsuit filed in Kanawha County contends the old law is not valid due to the numerous conflicting laws passed since the 1800's law went into effect.

The suit asks for a temporary restraining order leading to a permanent injunction.

Justice said the time to act is now.

“The laws are archaic,” Justice said. “They're ancient and we've got to clean it up. We're either going to get our brains beat out in court, or we're going to clean it up.”

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

An abortion rights rally will take place Saturday at the State Capitol.

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

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