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West Virginia governor signs bill requiring medical care for abortion survivors

abortion, preemie

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice ratified the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act during a ceremonial signing at the state Capitol on Monday. The law, which requires that medical aid be provided to infants who are born alive after an attempted abortion, is slated to go into effect on May 19.

Justice, who was elected a Democrat before switching to the Republican party, was eager to voice his support of the bill. “This is an absolute no-brainer as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I’ve said for a long time, even back before I took office as governor, that I would support measures like this because every human life — born or unborn — is precious and truly a gift from God.”

Under the new law, the state medical board can revoke the license of any doctor if that doctor fails to provide medical care to a child born alive after an attempted abortion. The bill requires “medical practitioners to use the same degree of reasonable medical judgment to preserve the life of a fetus which is born alive as would be used in a live non-abortion birth of the same gestational age.” Abortion in West Virginia is currently illegal after 20 weeks and the state’s only abortion facility doesn’t commit abortions after 16 weeks. However, lawmakers saw a need for this born-alive bill in response to a statement by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam last year which suggested that infants born after a botched abortion could still be killed.

READ: West Virginia Legislature passes bill affirming there is no constitutional right to abortion

“If I had my way, I would stand up here and say I stand for life in all cases, all the time,” said Gov. Justice. “It’s unbelievable that we even have to go through this process for something that seems like it’s just common sense. But, at the same time, we should be really proud that we’re defending the lives of our most vulnerable.”

Despite West Virginia’s widespread bipartisan support of the law — it passed the House unanimously and the Senate with a vote of 93-5 — an almost identical federal bill failed in the Senate last week after 41 Senators blocked it from heading to a final vote.

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