The sole abortion provider in West Virginia is no longer challenging the state law imposing a near-total ban on abortions.
In a court filing Monday, Women’s Health Center of West Virginia said it voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit after its physician “determined that he will not be able to resume providing abortion care in West Virginia” due to “professional obligations.”
The clinic said another part-time physician is also no longer available.
Aubrey Sparks, managing attorney for the ACLU of West Virginia, said the clinic has reserved the right to re-file “if and when the circumstances are right.”
“The physicians who previously worked at the clinic are not able to resume providing abortion care in West Virginia at this time, and so the plaintiffs have decided to discontinue the lawsuit,” Sparks said.
“The ACLU remains committed to using every tool at our disposal to ensure that everyone in West Virginia can get the essential care they need,” Sparks said in a statement.
The decision to drop the lawsuit comes shortly after the clinic announced it was opening a location in Cumberland, Maryland, just a few minutes from the West Virginia border. The clinic is slated to open in June and will offer a range of reproductive health services, including medical and procedural abortion up to 16 weeks gestation.
Gov. Jim Justice (R) last year signed into law a bill banning abortion at every stage in pregnancy, except in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, or instances of rape and incest that are reported to law enforcement within 48 hours prior to any abortion procedure.
But the law limits that exemption to only eight weeks of pregnancy for adults and 14 weeks for children.
The law includes a requirement that procedural abortions must be done in a hospital and by a physician with privileges at a West Virginia hospital.
In a statement, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), who had intervened on behalf of the state to defend the ban, said his office “stands ready to defend this clearly constitutional law to the fullest should this lawsuit be refiled, or against any other legal challenge.”
Morrisey, who recently announced he was running for governor, called himself the state’s “first pro-life Attorney General” and said the issue of abortion “is very near and dear to my heart.”