CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a memorandum Wednesday night that an abortion law from the 1800s is enforceable.
However, he went on to say the West Virginia Legislature is strongly advised to amend the laws in the Mountain State to provide for clear prohibitions on abortion that are consistent with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that Supreme Court Justices used to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24.
Some of the laws on the books in West Virginia would make it a felony, punishable by prison time for both the patient and the doctor involved in an abortion.
Morrisey said in a memorandum, “an 1849 law criminalizing the provision of abortion for a health-care provider, and arguably the woman, is on the books and enforceable. So are many other abortion-related statutes.”
The law came into question after the Supreme Court’s decision to turn over Roe v. Wade essentially creating a gray area for the state’s only abortion provider.
The provider canceled all upcoming procedures when the law became unclear.
Attorney General Morrisey is encouraging a Legislative session focused on abortion laws in what he calls several crucial areas. These include:
- “Specifying the acts that are subject to criminal prosecution and determining whether a woman should be subject to prosecution.”
- “Determining the nature of any exceptions.”
- “Addressing how the Legislature may wish to define the scope of medical practice related to restrictions or eliminations of the use of abortifacients.”
- “Development of a stronger enforcement regime to ensure that laws are uniformly applied in all counties, including appropriate civil tools to deter lawbreaking.”
- “Assessing the need for additional changes in the law regarding reporting or other matters.”
Morrisey says his office will continue to provide guidance to the landmark decision and will update members of the Legislature and the Governor when it comes to ongoing matters concerning abortion laws.
However, in the meantime, the A.G. says his office stands, “ready to defend the present suit against the 1849 abortion statute and take action upon a request from the Governor to petition the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to lift the current injunction against West Virginia’s partial-birth abortion law. We stand ready, too, to defend any of the other existing laws on the books.”