The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

July 11, 2013

State attorney general wants public comments on abortion

Group claims Morrisey is 'making a mockery of medicine and government'

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is asking the public for help with his office’s review of state abortion laws and regulations.

A notice posted on the office’s website invites the public to comment on general health care regulation and abortion regulation both in West Virginia and elsewhere.

The notice says that state code only requires informed consent and parental notification. There aren’t any laws requiring licensed physicians to perform abortions or limiting the gestational age when an abortion may be performed.

Morrisey says he welcomes comments on areas including: compliance and auditing of facilities and providers; reasons that abortion clinic regulatory treatment is different than the regulatory treatment of hospitals; ambulatory surgical facilities; and physician offices.

The notice says Morrisey is trying to “ensure that our review is as thorough and transparent as possible” by inviting participation.

But civil rights and women’s health groups say it’s a veiled attempt by a Republican abortion opponent to outlaw the procedure.

West Virginia has only two stand-alone abortion clinics, both in Charleston. Both have refused to answer detailed questionnaires from the attorney general about their policies and practices.

“He’s making a mockery of medicine and government,” Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of the abortion-rights group West Virginia Free, told the Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/1ad63pc). “West Virginians don’t deserve this overreach from their attorney general.”

West Virginia law requires women seeking abortion to wait 24 hours, and parents of minors must be notified when a girl has requested the procedure.

West Virginia is one of 11 states that doesn’t require a licensed doctor to perform an abortion, according to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute.

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