CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Two bills to restrict abortion access in West Virginia were still on the table Saturday as lawmakers convened for the last scheduled day of the 2022 Legislative session.
One bill, which would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks except in a medical emergency or in the case of a severe fetal abnormality, was on second reading in the Senate. The legislation is almost identical to the Mississippi law currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The high court’s ruling in the Mississippi abortion case could lead to the overturning of its landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Current law in West Virginia prohibits abortions after 20 weeks. There is only one facility in the state that performs abortions, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia in Charleston.
Another bill, which would bar abortions when parents believe their child will be born with a disability, was on third reading in the House. That bill requires physicians to submit a report to the state for each abortion they perform and whether “the presence or presumed presence of any disability in the unborn human being had been detected.”
The report would need to include the date of the abortion and the method used and also confirm that the doctor asked the patient whether abortion was being chosen because the baby could have a disability.
The reports would have to be submitted within 15 days of each abortion, according to the bill. Patients’ names must be omitted.
A physician who violates the law could see their license to practice medicine suspended or revoked.
The bill provides exemptions in the case of a medical emergency or in cases where a fetus is “nonmedically viable.”
The 15-week abortion ban — which provides no exemptions for victims of rape or incest — passed the House in mid-February, then stalled in the Senate Health Committee for weeks before it was greenlit Friday with little discussion. The only major change to the bill would be to delay its enactment until March 15, 2023. The committee’s attorney said that was to give U.S. Supreme Court time to make a decision in the Mississippi case.
Lawmakers decided to bypass a referral to the Judiciary Committee on Friday and send the bill straight to the Senate floor.
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