CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — West Virginia’s 2022 abortion law is facing another lawsuit and possible injunction, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of West Virginia announced Wednesday.
The bill in question is HB 302, which was passed in September 2022 after Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the right to an abortion in the U.S., was overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court. HB 302 prevents most abortions from taking place in West Virginia but does not prosecute physicians who perform or patients who receive the procedure.
Women’s Health Center of West Virginia (WHC), West Virginia’s main abortion clinic prior to the passing of HB 302, filed a lawsuit in Southern District Court against the West Virginia Board of Medicine for wording in the bill that requires all abortions to take place in hospitals. It is also asking for an injunction blocking the entire ban while providers make their case in court, the ACLU said.
Under West Virginia’s near-all abortion ban, abortions can only take place in the case of a medical emergency, or in the case of rape or incest and within 14 weeks of conception for minors and eight weeks for adults. One detail also requires procedural abortions to be performed in a hospital and medication abortions—abortion-inducing pills—to be performed or induced by a physician with hospital privileges.
A surgical abortion performed or induced or attempted to be performed or induced pursuant to this section shall be in a hospital, as defined in §16-5B-1 of this code, which is licensed by the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
(g) An abortion performed or induced or attempted to be performed or induced shall be performed by a licensed medical professional who has West Virginia hospital privileges.West Virginia House Bill 302
The suit filed by the WHC, says that the bill prohibits the clinic and its main abortion physician from performing any abortions, even the ones that are legal under HB 302. It also states that the majority of abortions are not performed in hospitals by physicians with hospital privilege and HB 302’s requirement that they be is “patently illogical.”
“Even in the late 1970s, it was understood in the medical community that the vast majority of abortions did not need to be performed in a hospital. Even then, requiring all abortion to be performed in a hospital was virtually unheard of and considered medically unjustified,” says the lawsuit.
The document also provided statistics showing that abortion procedures—which it said takes fewer than 10 minutes—and medication abortions are safe and have a low chance of complications.
“No medication abortion patient has ever been transferred from WHC to the hospital for emergency care,” the lawsuit said. It also said, “A recent report from the FDA confirms that the risk of death associated with medication abortion is lower than that associated with use of penicillin or Viagra.”
West Virginia’s Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who has openly supported abortion restriction in West Virginia, released the following statement about the lawsuit:
“We are ready to defend West Virginia’s abortion law to the fullest. This law reflects the will of the majority of the citizens of the state as relayed by their elected representatives in the State Legislature.”West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
“I will stand strong for the life of the unborn and will not relent in our defense of this clearly constitutional law.”
The full lawsuit can be viewed on the ACLU of West Virginia’s website.
This is not the only lawsuit filed regarding HB 302. An abortion pill manufacturer filed a suit against West Virginia saying the bill violates the Supremacy Clause and the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.