“We’ve released our memo because we want to make sure that there’s no confusion about the current state of affairs in West Virginia,” said Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
The memo by Morrisey said he would uphold the laws on the books in West Virginia, dating back to 1849, making abortion a felony for the patient and doctor.
He still thinks lawmakers need to act quickly to create clarity.
“We’re prepared to work with the legislature in any way to save as many lives as humanly and legally as possible,” Morrisey said.
Today, Gov. Jim Justice agreed and said he plans to call for a special session.
“I’ve taken all the knowledge and information that I could take from legislatures as well as our attorney general and now we need to go,” Gov. Justice said.
Legal challenges have already been filed by the ACLU on behalf of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia.
“With the lawsuit, what we’re seeking is for a court to make a declaration to clarify that this law in the 1800s is unenforceable,” said Loree Stark, ACLU-WV legal director. “That will allow our client to start providing those important lifesaving healthcare services again.”
Moving forward with charges would be up to county prosecutors, and its clear even with Morrisey’s memo, there is still gray area.
Kanawha County Prosecutor Chuck Miller who is named in the lawsuit, said, “The ACLU has filed to enjoin me and the Attorney General from enforcing the law in WV regarding abortion. My office has no referrals pending. I hesitate to take any position until the issue is clarified.”
The Putnam County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia said, “… As prosecutors we have a clear obligation to enforce the laws of our state. I believe if abortion is illegal then no responsible medical provider will be doing them.”
Sorsaia continued saying, “If abortions are conducted in the ‘back allies’ as occurred historically before legalized abortions, we would have to aggressively deal with that problem for obvious safety reasons.”
Gov. Justice said he hopes to have the special session soon, but the date of it is still not set.