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 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, per the AP. Justice, a Republican, described the legislation on Twitter as "a bill that protects life." The ban has exemptions for medical emergencies and for rape and incest victims until eight weeks of pregnancy for adults and 14 weeks for children. 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.
"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," wrote the governor. 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 of West Virginia, where the procedure has been performed since 1976 and which was the state's sole abortion provider. Those who perform illegal abortions can face up to 10 years in prison.
After lawmakers passed the bill Tuesday, Women’s Health Center Executive Director Katie Quiñonez said the clinic’s lawyer advised them to suspend abortions immediately. Staff spent Tuesday night and Wednesday canceling dozens of appointments and providing them with resources to book appointments out-of-state. Meanwhile, Indiana's abortion ban—passed in August—started being enforced Thursday. Indiana and West Virginia now join more than a dozen states with abortion bans, though most were approved before that Supreme Court ruling and took effect once the court threw out the constitutional right to end a pregnancy. (Lindsey Graham is pushing for a national law.)