W.Va. House passes bill making abortion illegal in most cases
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The West Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday passed a bill that makes abortion illegal in most cases.
House Bill 302 passed by a 69-23 vote with eight members absent.
Gov. Jim Justice had called on lawmakers to clarify, modernize and specify abortion laws in West Virginia, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
House Bill 302 would make abortion illegal in most situations.
Wednesday, an amendment was added that would allow abortion in certain cases of rape or incest. For that abortion to happen, the pregnant person would have to have reported the incident to a qualified law enforcement officer, have a licensed medical professional determine the fetus was less than 14 weeks old, and the medical professional would make sure all other provisions in House Bill 302 had been followed.
Other exceptions including a fetus that could not survive outside the womb, a fetus that develops outside the uterus, or a medical emergency with risk of seriously death or bodily harm to the person carrying the fetus.
Under the legislation, a physician or licensed medical care provider would face felony charges of three to 10 years in prison and they could lose their license to practice if they performed an abortion.
Del. Doug Smith, a Mercer County Republican, said he was satisfied with the bill’s passage and also voted for the new amendment for rape and incest victims.
“Abortion should never be used as a form of birth control, that’s just wrong. I’m 100% against it but I do believe in the life of the mother exception, the rape and incest exception,” he said. “One of the things I like is that it has to be reported to law enforcement and I’m glad to see that happened because I don’t like it personally but to see have that option for 10, 12-year-old girls that type of thing.”
Del. Lisa Zukoff, a Marshall County Democrat, introduced an amendment that would allow abortion without a time limit for rape and incest victims. It failed on the House floor.
She said she is relieved there were some exceptions made but said the amendment does not go far enough.
“I’m glad we got some exceptions in the bill, but I was saddened to see that we didn’t get full exceptions for rape and incest, we have full exceptions for the life of the mother, ectopic pregnancy, but a girl or woman who’s raped have very few choices,” she said. “These are hard, tough, issues, and I was hoping that West Virginia would be a little more lenient with the law going forward, but it wasn’t to be today.”
The bill is now in the Senate’s hands. A final vote on the Senate’s version of the bill could happen later this week.
We will have more on this developing story. Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest.
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