West Virginia lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday that bans abortion with limited exceptions.
The legislation passed the state’s Senate 22-7 and the House 77-17, now moving to the desk of Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who is expected to sign the bill into law.
It bans abortion except for cases where the embryo or fetus is nonviable, the pregnancy is ectopic, a medical emergency exists, or within eight weeks of a pregnancy caused by sexual assault or incest for an adult or 14 weeks for a minor.
The law also includes criminal penalties for anyone who performs an abortion without a medical license or at an unapproved location.
Once signed into law, the bill will replace the state’s current ban after 20 weeks, which went into effect in July after a judge blocked a pre-Roe ban from the nineteenth century. The decision allowed the state’s only abortion clinic to resume services at the time.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tera Salango ruled the state’s laws were in conflict, leaving the need to clarify the current situation.
“It simply does not matter if you are pro-choice or pro-life,” she said. “Every citizen in this state has a right to clearly know the laws under which they are expected to live.”
The new legislation was overwhelmingly approved as an updated measure, though pro-abortion advocates blasted the effort. Alisa Clements, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, spoke out against the bill in a statement on Tuesday.
“There is nothing more extreme than a law that strips people of the freedom to govern their own bodies, and our state lawmakers have shamefully forced this despicable bill down our throats, behind closed doors in a matter of hours,” Clements said.
The West Virginia bill was passed the same day that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced a bill that would ban most abortions nationwide after 15 weeks.
The bill, dubbed the “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act,” was announced during a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
“I see this as a responsible alternative to the very radical position by Democratic senators,” Graham said. “I can assure that a vast majority of Americans do not support abortion on demand up to delivery.”
The state’s legislation also follows a growing number of laws further restricting abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June and returned laws regarding abortion to states. Indiana passed a similar abortion ban last month, the first since the court’s ruling.
The Biden administration has continued to condemn the increased abortion restrictions. Following the passage of Indiana’s law, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released a statement opposing the decision.
“The Indiana Legislature took a devastating step as a result of the Supreme Court’s extreme decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate women’s constitutionally-protected right to abortion,” Jean-Pierre said.