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House of Delegates Passes Abortion Law, Moves To Senate

Abortion protest.jpg
Will Price
/
Legislative Photography
Abortion protestors inside the State Capitol Wednesday

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed a new law outlawing abortion with a few medical exceptions and in the case of rape or incest when there is a police report — as long as it is within 14 weeks. The Senate completed the first reading of the bill and will take it up again on Thursday.

On Monday, Gov. Jim Justice called the legislature into a special session to “clarify and modernize” the state’s abortion-related laws that currently exist as part of the state’s code.

Wednesday’s 69-23 (8 absent) vote by the House of Delegates sent House Bill 302 to the West Virginia Senate.

The bill states that all of West Virginia's current abortion laws are no longer effective and creates a new article consolidating the regulation of abortion.

The bill bans abortion at all stages of pregnancy with few exceptions. Those include instances of a non medically viable fetus, a medical emergency, or an ectopic pregnancy - a rare event in which a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus and cannot survive.

The definition of abortion has been changed to include the use of any instrument, medicine, drug or any other substance or device with intent to terminate the pregnancy.

The word pregnancy has replaced the word fetus.

New definitions include contraceptive ectopic pregnancy implantation and in vitro fertilization.

As defined in the bill, the following are not considered an abortion:

A miscarriage or stillbirth, or the use of existing established cell lines derived from aborted human embryos or fetuses.

Medical treatment provided to a patient by a licensed medical professional that results in the accidental death of or unintentional injury or death of a fetus, in-vitro fertilization and human fetal tissue research when performed in accordance with federal laws and regulations.

The bill does not outlaw the prescription, sale, transfer or use of contraceptive devices, instruments, medicines or drugs.

If an abortion is performed through the use of an exception, the following actions are still required:

If the patient is an unemancipated minor, the current parental notification statute has been reinserted and has not been changed.

The bill also states that if an exempted abortion is performed, a report is required to be submitted to the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health.

A partial birth abortion is not considered a permitted form of exempted abortion. This creates a cross reference to the criminal code where the criminal penalty is established.

Additionally, a licensed medical professional who violates a provision of this article could be subject to discipline from their licensure board. The bill contains criminal penalty enforcement unless the abortion is permitted.

There are no criminal penalties in the bill for the mother.


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