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Law barring abortions because of disability goes into effect

June 10, 2022 GMT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A new West Virginia law going into effect Friday prevents patients from getting abortions because they believe their child will be born with a disability.

The ban, which was signed by Republican Gov. Jim Justice in March, provides exceptions in the case of a medical emergency or in cases where a fetus is “nonmedically viable.”

It was one of the more controversial bills passed during the 2022 legislative session. Its supporters said it would help protect people with disabilities. Justice posted about his signature of the “Unborn Child with a Disability Protection and Education Act” on Twitter to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.

He said then that the bill gives “deserved respect to our Down Syndrome community.”

Others say the proposal was just another tool to further limit abortion in West Virginia, which is currently barred after 20 weeks.

West Virginia has only one clinic that provides abortion services, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia in Charleston.

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In a statement, the clinic’s executive director, Katie Quinonez, called the ban “yet another example of politicians interfering with personal reproductive health decisions.”

“People seek abortion for many reasons, and each of those reasons is valid and should be respected,” she said. “Patients should be able to be open and honest with their health care provider.”

Quinonez said Thursday that the clinic was waiting on the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health to provide guidance on reporting and certification requirements for the law.