H. B. 2929
(By Delegates Fleischauer, Webster,
Brown, Doyle and Amores)
[Introduced February 10, 2003; referred to the
Committee on Health and Human Resources then the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend chapter sixteen of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article four-e, relating to
establishing the reproductive health clinic protection act.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter sixteen of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding
thereto a new article, designated article four-e, to read as
ARTICLE 4E. REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CLINIC PROTECTION ACT.
§16-4E-1. Short title.
This article shall be called the "Reproductive Health Clinic
§16-4E-2. Findings and purpose.
The legislature finds that:
(a) Citizens of West Virginia have a right to access
reproductive health facilities for the purpose of obtaining or
providing reproductive health care, counseling and treatment.
(b) A nationwide campaign of violence and intimidation is
curtailing the availability of abortion services and endangering
providers and patients. Since one thousand nine hundred seventy
seven, there have been over thirty-eight thousand reported acts of
violence against abortion providers, including bombings, arson,
death threats, and assaults, as well as over seventy-thousand
reported acts of disruption, including bomb threats and harassing
(c) Intimidating, unwanted, and close physical encounters with
aggressive anti-abortion activists can exacerbate a patient's
stress and create increased health risks. Maintaining a zone of
personal space is essential to sustain privacy, and to provide a
buffer against physical or psychological threat.
(d) The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the importance of
protecting access to reproductive health facilities and maintaining a zone of separation between protestors and patients. In Hill v.
Colorado, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Colorado law establishing
a zone of separation between protestors and patients, ruling that
the state has "a substantial and legitimate interest" in protecting
persons attempting to enter health facilities from "unwanted
encounters, confrontations, and even assaults."
The purpose of this act is to protect the health, safety and
welfare of the citizens of West Virginia.
In this section:
(a) "Reproductive health facility" means a hospital, clinic,
physicians' office, or other facility that provides reproductive
health services, and includes the building or structure in which
the facility is located; and
(b) "Reproductive health services" means medical, surgical,
counseling or referral services relating to the human reproductive
system, including services relating to pregnancy or the termination
§16-4E-4. Protection near reproductive health facilities.
It is unlawful for any person to knowingly obstruct, detain,
hinder, impede or block another person's entry to or exit from a
reproductive health services facility.
It is also unlawful for any person to knowingly approach
within eight feet of another person in the public way or sidewalk
area within a radius of one hundred feet from any entrance door to
a reproductive health facility for the purpose of passing a leaflet
or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest,
education or counseling with such other person, unless the other
§16-4E-5. Penalties; other relief.
Any person who violates the provisions of this article is
guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be
fined not less than fifty dollars nor more than five hundred
dollars, or confined in the county or regional jail not more than
one year, or both fined and imprisoned.
In addition to, and not in lieu of, criminal penalties set
forth in this section, a person who violates the provisions of this
article shall be subject to civil liability.
Any person aggrieved by reason of conduct prohibited by this
section may commence a civil action for relief. The court may
award appropriate relief, including temporary, preliminary or
permanent injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages
as well as the costs of the suit and reasonable fees for attorneys and expert witnesses.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish the
reproductive health clinic protection act.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.