West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey defended a state law restricting abortion in most circumstances from a legal challenge brought by the state’s lone abortion facility in federal court.
After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June 2022, overturning the high court’s previous abortion-related precedents in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, lawmakers in several states moved to either restrict or expand access to abortion. West Virginia was among the states that enacted legislation limiting the procedure in most circumstances.
Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed in September legislation banning abortion at all stages of pregnancy with narrow exceptions for victims of sexual assault or cases where there is a maternal mortality risk. The state’s only abortion facility, Women’s Health Center of West Virginia in Charleston, suspended its operations after the Dobbs ruling, and later challenged the state’s new law in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
“The Supreme Court was very clear when it overturned Roe v. Wade — abortion policy is returned to the states and their elected representatives,” Morrisey said in a Feb. 28 statement. “This law is clearly constitutional and we stand ready to defend it.”
Attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom are also defending the law. ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life, told OSV News that Dobbs recognized there is “no basis in the Constitution” for abortion, and the court determined that states should craft their own laws instead.
Harle called the abortion facility’s challenge “meritless.”
“The West Virginia legislature was just following the crystal clear directive of the Supreme Court, along with the will of the people of West Virginia,” she said.
Morrisey and ADF are also defending the law in a separate legal challenge to it brought by an abortion pill manufacturer in the same court.
In a Feb. 1 statement regarding the abortion facility’s legal challenge, Katie Quiñonez, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia executive director, said her organization is “forced to turn patients away because politicians took away their power to make the best medical decisions for themselves during pregnancy.”
Quiñonez added, “the extreme restrictions in this law prevent us from helping our patients make the best medical decisions for themselves and their families.”
“Whether it’s in the statehouse or courthouse, we will never stop fighting to ensure our patients can access essential care they need,” she said.
But Harle argued that “pro-life laws protect women; they protect children.”
“It is really foul to see the abortion industry, which profits off of not following health and safety laws…challenging these laws so they can make more money by not going through basic steps other doctors go through,” Harle said.
“Women don’t lose the right to health and safety just because they seek an abortion,” she added.