Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Pro-choice protest

An abortion rights activist holds a placard saying, "Abortion bans replace freedom with force," in Bloomington, Indiana on September 15, 2022. On Friday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a near-total ban on abortion care. (Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

'Cowardly and Despicable': West Virginia Gov. Signs Abortion Ban Into Law

"Banning abortion behind closed doors, days after a nationwide abortion ban was introduced equals being scared of your constituents."

Julia Conley

West Virginia on Friday became the second state in the U.S. to pass an abortion ban into law following the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, one day after Indiana's new ban went into effect.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice abruptly announced at a press conference that he had privately signed House Bill 302, which passed in the legislature earlier this week.

"Is it 'logical' to make patients wait until they're on the brink of death to get a lifesaving abortion?"

"It is absolutely done," Justice told reporters.

The bill will go into effect immediately, and the state's only abortion clinic, Women's Health Center of West Virginia in Charleson, started canceling dozens of abortion care appointments earlier this week following the passage of H.B. 302.

The law bans abortions at any stage of pregnancy and is written to permit abortion care in cases of a fetus that is not medically viable, an ectopic pregnancy, or a medical emergency—exceptions that Justice said qualified as "reasonable and logical."

Recent cases in Texas and Louisiana have demonstrated that in practice, such exceptions can result in hospitals and doctors waiting until a pregnant person's life is in danger before providing care, or forcing them to carry a nonviable pregnancy for weeks.

"Is it 'logical' to make patients wait until they're on the brink of death to get a lifesaving abortion?" asked Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

The law also imposes restrictions on people whose pregnancies are the result of rape or incest. Adult survivors cannot obtain abortion care after eight weeks of pregnancy and must report their assault to the police, while minors have until 14 weeks of pregnancy and must either file a police report or be treated for their assault in a hospital—or else they will be forced to continue the pregnancy.

"Most people don't come forward to law enforcement to report rape and incest because, frankly, victims are not believed," Katie Quiñonez, executive director of the Women's Health Center of West Virginia, told West Virginia Metro News. "The reporting process is incredibly traumatic, and most people don't want to be re-traumatized after they have just experienced assault."

Planned Parenthood of South Atlantic West Virginia warned that the ban will be "deadly" for West Virginians and condemned Justice for unexpectedly announcing that residents no longer have access to care after signing the bill behind closed doors.

"Banning abortion behind closed doors, days after a nationwide abortion ban was introduced equals being scared of your constituents," said Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Biden Urged to Sign Executive Order Guaranteeing Rail Workers Paid Sick Leave

After the president brokered a compulsory contract without a single paid day off for illness, one labor advocate implored him to "put up or shut up about how you really want them to have sick leave!"

Brett Wilkins ·

Campaigners Demand Deep Cuts to Plastic Production as Global Treaty Negotiations Ramp Up

"The scale of the problem is mind-boggling," said one advocate. "Plastic is in our blood. It's in fetuses. It's really encroaching on every aspect of human existence."

Julia Conley ·

Putting 'Profits Over People', Senate Rejects Paid Sick Leave for Rail Workers

"Senate Republicans and Joe Manchin have yet AGAIN failed working Americans by voting down seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers," lamented Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

Brett Wilkins ·

'We Must Cancel Student Debt,' Activists Argue as SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Case in February

"The right-tilted Supreme Court now holds in the balance relief for millions of hardworking Americans," said one campaigner. "It would be a giant loss for the economy if justices rule in favor of the special interests."

Jessica Corbett ·

A Labor Revolt Is Brewing... Inside the National Labor Relations Board

"From Congress, we demand funds, not furloughs," says the NLRB union. "From NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, we demand collaboration, not coercion."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo