20-Week Abortion Ban Passes West Virginia House

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20-Week Abortion Ban Passes West Virginia House

Nina Liss-Schultz

The GOP-controlled West Virginia house today voted 87 to 12 to pass a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization, with no exception for rape or incest.

The GOP-controlled West Virginia house today voted 87 to 12 to pass a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization, with no exception for rape or incest.

HB 2568, introduced by Republican Rep. Kelli Sobonya, will now move to the state senate for consideration, and if the legislation passes there, even a gubernatorial veto might not stop the ban from taking effect.

The proposed legislation would prohibit all abortions after 20 weeks, which falls before what is considered the constitutionally protected moment of viability, about 24 weeks.

Democratic Rep. David Perry proposed similar legislation last year, but it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin after passing both state chambers.

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Tomblin said at the time that he vetoed the legislation because it was both unconstitutional and medically harmful.

“The bill,” he said in a statement, is “problematic because it unduly restricts the physician-patient relationship. All patients, particularly expectant mothers, require the best, most unfettered medical judgment and advice from their physicians regarding treatment options.”

Tomblin told reporters last month that he would veto the 20-week ban again if it comes to his desk in 2015. But a simple majority vote is needed to overturn his veto, and the GOP now controls the state senate, 18 to 17.

HB 2568 shares its name, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” with a handful of 20-week ban bills introduced in states across the country this legislative session, among them South Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia. (The Virginia bill was defeated in committee.)

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives last month pulled a 20-week abortion ban bill after women GOP House members said they would oppose the anti-choice measure.

Ohio Right to Life, a prominent anti-choice group, has also promised that a 20-week ban will be introduced in the state this session.