The legislation outlaws abortions except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, rape or incest occurred and was reported to law enforcement, or when the fetus is nonmedically viable. West Virginia law previously allowed for abortions until 22 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill passed the state Senate in a 22-7 vote and the House in a 77-17 vote. The bill will now head the Gov. Jim Justice (R), an anti-abortion advocate, for his signature.
Under the new law, any doctor or licensed medical practitioner who intentionally or recklessly performs or induces an abortion that is not within the scope of the exceptions could be subject to discipline, including losing their medical license, but they would not face criminal charges.
Women who receive abortions would also not be subject to any penalties.
Abortion-rights supporters in the state blasted the bills passage, and some demonstrators gathered inside the statehouse to protest the legislation.
“West Virginians will now have to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their homes and incur massive costs to access essential, lifesaving care,” Katie Quinonez, executive director of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, said of the bill, according to West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
The West Virginia bill’s passage comes on the same day Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) unveiled the “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act.” The legislation calls for a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest, and safeguarding the mother’s life.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday called Graham’s proposal “wildly out of step” with what America wants.