On Monday, Justice tweeted about signing the “Unborn Child with a Disability Protection and Education Act.” He announced the new law in a tweet to commemorate World Down Syndrome Day.
According to him, the bill “deserved respect to our Down Syndrome community.”
Except in cases of medical emergency or when a foetus is “nonmedically viable,” the law prohibits people from seeking abortions because their child will be disabled.
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During the 2022 legislative session, it was one of the more contentious legislation passed. Its advocates said that it would aid in the protection of people with impairments. Others argue that the proposal is simply another tool for further restricting abortion in West Virginia, where abortion is currently prohibited after 20 weeks.
During a 90-minute debate on the bill on March 12, Democratic Del. Evan Hansen said it would do nothing to help people with disabilities and their families.
“This is an attempt to use people with disabilities as props for an anti-abortion agenda, something that the disability community has not asked for, as far as I know — and that’s just wrong,” Hansen said. “It creates government overreach into personal family medical decisions.”
If a physician violates the law, their licence to practise medicine may be suspended or revoked.
The bill also requires physicians to submit a report to the state for each abortion they perform, including if “the presence or presumed presence of any disability in the unborn human being had been detected.”
The records would detail the date and method of the abortion, as well as confirmation that the doctor asked the patient if they wanted an abortion because the baby might have a disability. These reports are due within 15 days of each abortion.