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W.Va. Attorney General Morrisey, 12-state coalition files brief to protect unborn children

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led a 12-state effort in defending the right of states to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a crucial argument to protect the lives of unborn children and safeguard West Virginia’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

The coalition’s brief leans upon a growing scientific consensus that a fetus is capable of experiencing pain at the 20-week threshold, if not before.

“We must protect life at every stage of development,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Sadly, until our efforts and those in the state Legislature, West Virginia law permitted abortions until birth. This greatly disturbed me. I strongly supported our state’s passage of a pain capable law, and this brief illustrates my commitment to fighting off any potential challenge to its enforcement.”

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The Supreme Court has long recognized that states have valid interests in regulating abortion upon the grounds of women’s health, protecting the dignity of human life and defending human life at all stages of development.

The brief, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, supports the constitutionality of North Carolina’s 20-week law as applied to abortions both before and after the point of viability. Both the North Carolina and West Virginia laws include an exception in cases of medical emergency.

Any appeal of the North Carolina case could have direct impact not only on North Carolina’s law, but also similar laws in West Virginia and across the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction.

West Virginia filed the brief with attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.

Read a copy of the brief at

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