On April 25, 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and the law firm of WilmerHale filed an emergency lawsuit on behalf of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia and its patients to prevent the state of West Virginia from restricting abortion access during the coronavirus pandemic.
Citing COVID-19, Governor Jim Justice issued an executive order prohibiting “elective medical procedures” in order to conserve “limited medical personnel, personal protective equipment, and other necessary medical equipment and supplies,” and curtail the spread of the virus. The order puts an indefinite ban on procedures that are deemed “not immediately medically necessary to preserve the patient’s life or long-term health.”
Attorney General Patrick Morrissey has determined this to include abortion care, despite both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology saying that abortion is a time-sensitive, essential medical procedure that cannot be delayed.
As of this filing, the ACLU and its partners at Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights have sued a total of nine states to ensure abortion access can continue during the COVID-19 crisis to nine, including: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas, in addition to West Virginia.