West Virginia medical providers and advocates have filed a lawsuit to prevent the abortion ban in state court.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of West Virginia (ACLU-WV), Mountain State Justice (MSJ) and the Cooley law firm filed the lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 on behalf of Women’s Health Center of West Virginia (WHC) and its staff.

The group says the statute in question, enacted by the state legislature in the late 1800s, not only criminalized the provision of abortion care but was also used to punish the person seeking the abortion (and even their partners).

The lawsuit argues the statute should be considered void under the doctrine of “repeal by implication,” a legal concept recognized in West Virginia courts 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, ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark said. 

“We will not stand by while this state is dragged back to the 1800s,” Stark said. “Every day that uncertainty remains about the enforceability of this statute is another day that West Virginians are being denied critical, lifesaving healthcare. That’s why we are asking the Court to make it clear this law cannot be enforced.”

You can read the full complaint here.