UPDATE (2:43 p.m. July 18, 2022) – A Kanawha County Circuit judge has granted an injunction to block a West Virginia abortion law that is even older than the state from taking effect, according to the ACLU-WV.
Judge Tera Salango ruled the injunction was “appropriate,” stating that the state code has a lot of conflicts and is too vague to be applied.
“The people of West Virginia would have no way to know which set of statutes a particular law enforcement agency or county prosecutor would choose to apply and this is a result that cannot stand,” Salango said. “It simply does not matter whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, every citizen in this state has a right to clearly know the laws under which they are expected to live.”
The judge said there is too much confusion surrounding which laws would apply, and specifically pointed toward the Unborn Victims of Violence Act as an example asking prosecutors what they would do because the code would mean three to 10 years behind bars for those found guilty, but the act would include a maximum of a lifetime in prison.
Kanawha County attorneys said it would be a case-by-case basis as to which law applied.
The ACLU-WV announced the ruling in a tweet stating: “A Court has blocked West Virginia’s cruel and archaic abortion ban by issuing a preliminary injunction. Our work isn’t done yet, however. We will need you to stand with us in the coming fight at the legislature.”
Even though Margaret Chapman Pomponio, West Virginia Free Executive Director, said she’s thrilled with the judge’s ruling against this “archaic” law, she’s unsure what will happen next in regards to offering abortions.
“There’s been a lot of confusion already. People are having to travel out of state to get the care that they need. So, it’s going to take a lot of figuring out as quickly as possible as to what’s next,” Pomponio said.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says abortions are once again able to be performed in the Mountain State, but he plans to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. He also claims that legislation passed after the original 1973 ruling in the Roe v. Wade case “never intended to repeal and replace the Act when it passed post-Roe regulations.”
“This is a dark day for West Virginia. We will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Appeals as soon as legally possible,” Morrisey said. “As a strong pro-life advocate, I am committed to protecting unborn babies to the fullest extent possible under the law, and I will not rest until this injunction is lifted. The current law on the books calls for the protection of life.”
CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The battle over abortion laws in West Virginia continues today in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
A hearing is set to take place today, July 18, 2022 in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Women’s Health Center of west Virginia and additional plaintiffs. On June 29, 2022, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent a law that has been in the West Virginia Code for more than 150 years from taking effect now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade.
The law in question, WV Code § 61-2-8, has been dubbed “the Criminal Abortion Ban” in the motion for the preliminary injunction. If it were to go back into effect, the law would make it a felony to perform or receive an abortion. If found guilty the patient and/or doctor could face no less than three years and as many as ten years behind bars.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s Office filed a response to the motion on July 12, 2022, in which he stated that although the state legislature has passed bills while Roe v. Wade was still in effect that regulated abortion access, those bills should not void previous state code.
Hours after the ACLU announced a lawsuit intent on preventing the law from being enforced, Morrisey announced he was “ready to defend” it in court.
Morrisey’s statement on the law read in part that his office was “ready to defend the present suit against the 1849 abortion statute and take action upon a request from the Governor to petition the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to lift the current injunction against West Virginia’s partial-birth abortion law. We stand ready, too, to defend any of the other existing laws on the books.”