CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On Monday, July 18 at 1:30 pm ET, the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia will hear arguments on plaintiff’s request for the court to issue a temporary injunction in Women’s Health Center of West Virginia v. Miller, a case challenging a West Virginia law adopted in the mid-1800s that criminalizes abortion care.
Attorney Kathleen Hartnett from the Cooley law firm will argue on behalf of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia and its staff, accompanied by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of West Virginia, Mountain State Justice, and the Cooley law firm.
Fear of prosecution under West Virginia’s archaic ban has forced the only abortion clinic in the state to suspend abortion services and turn away patients seeking essential care. When it was in effect, the statute was used to criminalize both people who seek and provide abortion care. The lawsuit argues the statute should be considered void under the doctrine of “repeal by implication,” a legal concept that holds an older law is made void when a newer, conflicting law is passed. West Virginia lawmakers have passed law after law over the years regulating the provision of legal abortion, and many of them conflict with the provisions of the criminal abortion statute. The lawsuit also argues the statute should be considered void under the doctrine known as “desuetude,” which renders criminal laws void when they fall into disuse, because it has not been enforced in over half a century.