West Virginia Providers and Advocates File Challenge Against Extreme and Unconstitutional Abortion Ban Passed Last Year

February 1, 2023 2:00 pm

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia abortion providers and advocates filed a lawsuit today in federal court challenging multiple provisions of HB 302, the state’s near-total abortion ban passed last year, as irrational and unconstitutional. Plaintiffs in the case — Women’s Health Center of West Virginia and a local abortion provider — are asking the district court to issue an injunction blocking the entire ban while providers make their case in court. Under HB 302, if any portion of the law is determined to be unconstitutional, the entire law must be struck down.

HB 302 was rushed through the West Virginia Legislature in under 24 hours, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Since HB 302 took effect, West Virginians have been forced to either travel across state lines to access the essential care they need — or find themselves forced into pregnancy and giving birth against their will.

Below are statements from plaintiffs and litigators:

“Every person deserves to access the critical care they need, but this law pushes essential abortion care out of reach,” said Katie Quiñonez, Women’s Health Center of West Virginia executive director. “With each day this ban remains in effect, we are forced to turn patients away because politicians took away their power to make the best medical decisions for themselves during pregnancy. Our providers took an oath to serve patients in every way possible, but 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.”

“The process by which this law was forced through is one of the least transparent in recent memory,” said Aubrey Sparks, ACLU of West Virginia managing attorney. “Every day that this cruel law remains on the books is a day that West Virginians are being denied critical, lifesaving health care.”

“Make no mistake: The cruel and medically unjustified provisions of this law effectively push care out of reach entirely, and the so-called exceptions are just an illusion,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “No one should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against their will and we’ll continue fighting until everyone can get the care they need — regardless of where they live.”

“The near-total abortion ban passed by the West Virginia legislature last year contains restrictions that are not rationally related to any legitimate state interest and therefore, violate the Constitution,” said Bren J. Pomponio, litigation director of Mountain State Justice.

“Cooley is proud to continue working alongside the ACLU and Mountain State Justice to show that West Virginia’s abortion restrictions are irrational and unlawful,” said Kathleen Hartnett, Cooley law firm.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of West Virginia, Mountain State Justice, and the Cooley law firm filed the lawsuit in the ​​U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on behalf of Women’s Health Center of West Virginia.

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