Lawmakers in West Virginia introduced a bill Tuesday mirroring the 20-week abortion ban legislation introduced by Congress. HB 2153, the deceptively named Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would make illegal all abortions after 20 weeks after fertilization, except when the pregnant person’s health is at serious risk.
The bill was introduced by Democratic state Rep. David Perry, who introduced similar legislation last year. HB 4588, Perry’s 2014 20-week ban, passed both the state house and senate, but was eventually vetoed by Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Tomblin, who has a mixed-record on reproductive health issues, said in a statement at the time that he vetoed the legislation not only because it was unconstitutional, but because it was bad for pregnant people seeking abortions.
“The medical community has made it clear to me that the criminal penalties this bill imposes will impede that advice, and those options, to the detriment of the health and safety of expectant mothers,” he said.
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Twenty-week abortion bans, as Rewire has reported, while purporting to protect women, are based on faulty scientific evidence and bely a commitment on the part of anti-choice legislators to outlaw abortion regardless the cost to people’s health and well-being.
Prominent medical groups, such as the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have said that a fetus cannot feel pain before 24 weeks.
Tomblin told reporters Tuesday that he would veto the new bill if it comes to his desk. However, a simple majority is needed to overturn vetoes in West Virgina, and the GOP now controls the state legislature.
Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced, for the second time, a 20-week abortion ban on the first day of the new session of Congress.
The South Carolina legislature introduced a similar bill this year.
The West Virginia legislature also introduced SB 236, which would ban all health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act exchange from including coverage of “elective” abortions.
People seeking insurance coverage of abortions that are not deemed medically necessary by the state would have to buy supplemental riders for those procedures.