A West Virginia judge blocked officials from enforcing a 19th-century ban on abortions after the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that protected the constitutional right to an abortion.
Republican West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office said that the law from the 1800s could take effect now that Roe had been overturned.
The law would make it a felony to perform or have an abortion, with exceptions only to protect a pregnant woman’s life.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tera Salango sided with the only abortion clinic left in the state, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia. Salango’s decision clears the way for the clinic to resume its services, which it had suspended at the end of June out of fear of prosecution following the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Salango said the law had effectively been repealed by more modern, post-Roe statutes that “hopelessly conflict” with the old law. Newer laws allow for abortion up to the 20th week of pregnancy.
Salango said it was unfair for the state to have conflicting laws, and that the clinic and its patients were the ones suffering as a result.
“It simply does not matter if you are pro-choice or pro-life,” Salango said.
“Every citizen in this state has a right to clearly know the laws under which they are expected to live,” she said.
Morrisey announced he would be appealing the preliminary injunction to the state’s highest court.
Morrisey said the “current law on the books calls for the protection of life.”
There are several cases such as this across the country being filed by abortion rights groups and clinics, seeking to halt or stall bans and restrictions from coming into effect in Republican-led states after the Supreme Court ruling.
The West Virginia ruling came hours after a judge in Louisiana extended a temporary block on the state from enforcing a “trigger” law ban designed to snap into effect when the Supreme Court overturned Roe.
Twelve other states have similar trigger laws. About half of the states in the U.S. are expected to seek to ban or curtail abortion rights after the ruling.