Case: Women's Health Center of West Virginia v. Miller

22-C-556 | West Virginia state trial court

Filed Date: June 29, 2022

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On June 29, 2022, the Women's Health Center of West Virginia filed this lawsuit to challenge the enforceability of West Virginia's “Criminal Abortion Ban” which was enacted in the 1800s and used to punish abortion care providers, women seeking abortions, and their partners (W. Va. Code § 61-2-8 ). With the help of the ACLU, Plaintiffs brought this suit in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia, claiming that though the ban has been dormant and replaced by a ​​modern legal regime tha…

On June 29, 2022, the Women's Health Center of West Virginia filed this lawsuit to challenge the enforceability of West Virginia's “Criminal Abortion Ban” which was enacted in the 1800s and used to punish abortion care providers, women seeking abortions, and their partners (W. Va. Code § 61-2-8 ). With the help of the ACLU, Plaintiffs brought this suit in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia, claiming that though the ban has been dormant and replaced by a ​​modern legal regime that recognizes the provision of legal abortion in the state, the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization requires the court to clarify that the ban cannot be enforced. This argument was asserted under the doctrine of “repeal by implication,” the claim that the ban has fallen into desuetude, and that the ban is unconstitutionally vague. Plaintiffs sought (1) both a preliminary and a permanent injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the “Criminal Abortion Ban,” (2) declaratory relief stating that the ban is either impliedly repealed, void for desuetude, and/or a violation of Article III, Section 10 of the West Virginia Constitution, and (3) attorneys fees and costs. This case was assigned to Judge Tera L. Salango. 

This case (22-C-556) was consolidated with four other cases: Dr. John Doe v. Miller (22-C-557), Debra Beatty v. Miller (22-C-558), Danielle Maness v. Miller (22-C-559), and Katie Quinonez v. Miller (22-C-560). All five cases were filed in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia on June 29, 2022, and consolidated as one case on July 1, 2022. The original complaint filed for this case (22-C-556) on June 29, 2022 includes all the above plaintiffs. Each of the plaintiffs in these four cases are employed by the Women's Health Center of West Virginia in various capacities.

On July 18, 2022, Judge Salango granted Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the enforcement of the ban while litigation proceeds and allowing abortion care to resume. The court found that a preliminary injunction would be appropriate to maintain the status quo, considering that the ban had been dormant for half a century and that the West Virginia legislature could have passed a trigger law but chose not to. In light of this order, the Attorney General of West Virginia sought an emergency stay of the preliminary injunction in the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia on July 19, 2022, and on July 21, 2022, he filed an appeal to the preliminary injunction. On August 12, 2022 the Supreme Court of Appeals issued an Order for Supplemental Briefing. Briefing on the appeal is ongoing.  

Summary Authors

Kathleen Lok (12/15/2022)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document
1

22-C-556

Verified Complaint

June 29, 2022

June 29, 2022

Complaint

22-C-556

22-C-557

22-C-558

22-C-559

22-C-560

Opinion and Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction

July 20, 2022

July 20, 2022

Order/Opinion

22-576

Motion for Emergency Stay of Kanawha County Circuit Court Ruling

Morrisey v. Women's Health Center of West Virginia

West Virginia state supreme court

July 20, 2022

July 20, 2022

Pleading / Motion / Brief

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 2:32 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: West Virginia

Case Type(s):

Reproductive Issues

Key Dates

Filing Date: June 29, 2022

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiffs include the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia (a non-profit corporation offering abortion care in West Virginia), its Executive Director and Chief Nurse Executive, and a physician and a counselor who also worked at WHC.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU National (all projects)

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Prosecuting Attorney of Kanawha County (Kanawha), County

Attorney General of West Virginia, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Facility Type(s):

Non-government non-profit

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Order Duration: 2022 - None

Issues

Reproductive rights:

Abortion

Complete abortion ban

Criminalization

Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)