West Virginia Judge Blocks State’s Pre-Roe Abortion Ban
Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on December 01, 2021 in Washington, DC.
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A West Virginia judge on Monday blocked the enforcement of the state’s 19th-century abortion ban, leaving the opportunity open for abortions to continue.

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Tera Salango granted a preliminary injunction in the case involving the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, the state’s only abortion provider.

Salango stated that the injunction was permitted to help patients “impregnated as a result of a rape or incest” who she claimed were “suffering irreparable harm,” according to The Associated Press.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey addressed the ruling on Twitter Monday, suggesting that the pro-life loss will only be temporary.

“West Virginians should know this is the first step of the judicial review process related to abortion. We are hopeful that the WV Supreme Court will uphold the law and will be filing an appeal asap,” Morrisey tweeted.

Morrisey also provided encouragement to those concerned over the ruling in favor of the state’s abortion clinic.

“Word of counsel for those following Kanawha County Circuit decisions. Don’t get too down if you lose or too fired up if you win. Everything must eventually go up to the WV Supreme Court. Tomorrow is a new day and will be a very good one!” he wrote.

In a memorandum on Morrisey’s website, he addressed the current state of abortion laws in West Virginia.

He noted that the state’s abortion policy was “enacted in 1849 and never repealed since.” The 1800s law only includes an exception for the protection of the life of the woman, and those providing an abortion could be punished by three to 10 years in prison.

Morrisey also argued that the state previously passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortion after 20 weeks of fertilization. The act also includes an exception to protect the life of the mother.

Salango’s ruling argued that the state’s legislature could have provided more clarity through a trigger law or similar statute if it intended stronger abortion limitations.

“I will not put words in the legislature’s mouth,” she said, The Associated Press reported. “However, if the legislature intended for the criminal statute to be in full force, it was free to pass a trigger law, similar to a number of other states. The legislature chose not to do so.”

Following the Supreme Court’s decision on June 24 to overturn Roe v. Wade and return abortion laws to individual states, Women’s Health Center of West Virginia Executive Director Katie Quinonez released a statement to announce it was “impossible” for its clinic to perform abortion services.

Roe has never been enough, but in states like West Virginia, it was the only thing protecting abortion access. Due to the inaction of our lawmakers to repeal the crime of abortion in our state code, it is impossible for our clinic to provide abortion,” she wrote.

“This will force West Virginians to travel hundreds to thousands of miles away from their home to access healthcare and will harm marginalized communities the most,” she added.

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