CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — West Virginia’s abortion laws are under dispute in a different direction following the injunction of the 1849 law which banned abortions in the state. As of Monday, the law can no longer be enforced, allowing the only practicing abortion clinic in West Virginia to begin operating once again. However, lawmakers are now criticizing Gov. Jim Justice for not acting sooner to clarify West Virginia’s abortion-related laws.
The West Virginia Democratic Party (WVDP) released a statement on the lack of action on Gov. Justice’s part, pointing out that he is going against his word, and the wishes of the West Virginia Democratic Party as well as Republican officials in the state, such as Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
After the Supreme Court decision overturned Roe v. Wade, Gov. Justice said that the laws would need to be clarified, and a week after the decision, he said he would “move swiftly” to call a special session to clarify West Virginia’s abortion laws. “I agree wholeheartedly that we need to move faster and we need to move for further and more detailed clarification,” Gov. Justice said.
Three weeks later, no legislative session has been called, according to the WVDP.
“Jim Justice’s failure to call the legislature back into session to repeal section 61-2-8 is a supreme dereliction of his duty as Governor and an act of callous indifference that puts patients’ lives at risk,” said West Virginia Democratic Party Vice Chair and Monongalia County representative Danielle Walker.
While the debate on abortion has become a majorly partisan issue, the WVDP said that Gov. Justice’s delays also go against the recommendation of GOP Attorney General Morrisey. “By failing to act, the Governor is ignoring the advice of Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, who said at the time the legislature should address the issue because West Virginia’s abortion laws were ‘vague,'” the WVDP release said.
“We are simply asking the Governor, in the name of human decency, to do what he said he would do three weeks ago,” Del. Walker said. “Call the legislature back in session and repeal the law he described as ancient and archaic. Since legislative leadership lacks the courage to call themselves back, it’s up to the Governor to act.”
Two weeks ago, Gov. Justice said that he wanted to call a special session to propose reducing state income tax by 10% as well as to clarify the abortion issue.