CHARLESTON, WV (AP) — Republican Gov. Jim Justice on Friday signed into law a ban on abortions at all stages of pregnancy, making West Virginia the second state to enact a law prohibiting the procedure since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling overturning its constitutional protection.
The bill will go into effect immediately, except for the criminal penalties, which will go into effect in 90 days, he said. Justice described the legislation on Twitter as “a bill that protects life.”
“I said from the beginning that if WV legislators brought me a bill that protected life and included reasonable and logical exceptions I would sign it, and that’s what I did today,” he said.
The ban has exemptions for medical emergencies and for rape and incest victims until eight weeks of pregnancy for adults and 14 weeks for those under the age of 18. Victims must report their assault to law enforcement 48 hours before the procedure. Minors can report to the police or a doctor, who then must tell police.
The bill requires abortions to be performed by a physician at a hospital — a provision that at least two Republican lawmakers have said was intended to shut down abortions at the Women’s Health Center, which has provided the procedure since 1976 and was the state’s sole abortion clinic. Providers who perform illegal abortions can face up to 10 years in prison.