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Women's Health Center of West Virginia v. Sheth

Description:  A West Virginia abortion facility is challenging the state’s pro-life law designed to protect unborn lives and women’s health.

Baby feet
Monday, Apr 17, 2023

CHARLESTON, W.V. – A West Virginia abortion facility told a federal district court Monday that it is dropping its lawsuit challenging the state’s health and safety regulations designed to protect unborn lives and women’s health.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, assisted by attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, has been defending the law, asking the court to leave abortion policy in the hands of the state’s elected representatives.

“As West Virginia’s first pro-life attorney general, I stand firm in the belief that it is our duty to protect innocent life. We need to save as many innocent babies’ lives as legally possible,” Morrisey said. “I am proud to stand for the most vulnerable of our society and the sanctity of life. My office stands ready to defend this clearly constitutional law to the fullest should this lawsuit be refiled, or against any other legal challenge.”

“West Virginia has a strong and compelling interest in protecting unborn life, and maternal health and safety. This baseless challenge to the state’s pro-life laws never should have been brought in the first place,” added ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life. “Abortionists who file lawsuits of this sort frequently do so because they would rather make a profit off of vulnerable women rather than see them have the real health care and resources they need, but that effort here faced serious problems because West Virginia’s law is on solid legal ground.”

In 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, West Virginia largely replaced its previous pro-life law with the Unborn Child Protection Act, protecting unborn life from abortion in most circumstances. In this case, Women’s Health Center of West Virginia v. Sheth, the abortion facility and one of its abortionists challenged two of the state’s health-and-safety regulations: one that requires surgical abortions to be performed in a hospital, and another that requires an abortion to be performed by a licensed medical professional who has West Virginia hospital privileges.

Morrisey and ADF attorneys explained to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Charleston Division, that West Virginia’s legal statutes are specifically designed to protect women’s health, and that “even under Roe and Casey, an abortion provider had no constitutional right to perform an abortion using his or her preferred methods.”

In a still-ongoing separate case, ADF attorneys are serving as co-counsel alongside Morrisey to defend the state’s pro-life laws from a legal challenge brought by an abortion drug manufacturer.

  • Pronunciation guide: Harle (HAR’-lee)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Denise Harle

Denise Harle serves as senior counsel on the Center for Life Team at Alliance Defending Freedom. Prior to joining ADF, Harle served as deputy solicitor general in the Office of the Florida Attorney General, where she drafted appellate briefs and presented oral arguments on behalf of the state in a wide variety of constitutional cases, including defending the constitutionality of pro-life laws. In 2017, she participated in the prestigious Supreme Court Fellow program, sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General. She clerked for Justice Ricky L. Polston on the Florida Supreme Court and worked for several years as an appellate litigator at a large firm in California. Harle earned bachelor’s degrees, summa cum laude, in psychology and interdisciplinary social science from Florida State University, a master’s degree in political science from Stanford University, and a Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law. At Duke, she served as the executive editor of Law & Contemporary Problems. A member of the state bars of California, Florida, and Georgia, she is admitted to multiple federal district and appellate courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.