West Virginia House Advances Proposed 20-Week Abortion Ban (Updated)


UPDATE, February 18, 5:54 p.m.: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the bill is now moving to the House Judiciary Committee.

With reporting by Sharona Coutts

A bill that would ban abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization is advancing through the West Virginia House of Delegates.

HB 4588, which passed out of a house committee Monday, is a replacement for a nearly identical bill, HB 2364, which was the subject of anti-choice misinformation and heated Democratic caucus debate last week.

West Virginians for Life falsely reported on LifeNews.com that Democrats had “killed” HB 2364, and constituents received robocalls to that effect. In fact, the bill failed a procedural vote that would have thwarted the traditional committee process. After that vote failed 48-48, with two Democrats siding with Republicans to discharge the bill from committee and force a floor vote on it, HB 2364 returned to where it started in the House Health and Human Services committee. There it was replaced with HB 4588, which passed on a voice vote with no discussion on Monday.

West Virginians for Life also published misinformation last September, when it circulated a letter citing now-debunked claims from anti-choice advocate Dr. Byron Calhoun about abortion complications in the state.

Last week’s failed procedural move to advance the 20-week abortion ban reportedly led Democratic caucus members to nearly come to blows in a heated closed-door session. Some anti-choice Democrats supported the bill on principle, but rejected the effort to rush the bill to passage and bypass committee review. Del. David Walker (D-Clay), who said he would never vote against an abortion bill, said he would also never vote to discharge a bill from committee in this way.

But those anti-choice Democrats may still have the chance to vote for a 20-week abortion ban. The bill now moves to the House Judiciary Committee. If it passes that committee, it will move to a full house floor vote, where it will likely pass.

“You’ll find that behind closed doors, most legislators do not want to advance this extreme legislation,” Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of pro-choice organization WV Free, told RH Reality Check. “But they’re being targeted and attacked by a vocal, more fringe minority. And so when these bills get out of committee, it’s very difficult to stop them.”

Because no anti-choice organizations actively lobbied for the bill before the day of the discharge petition, Phil Kabler wrote in the Charleston Gazette, “One has to wonder if the real intent is to create a wedge issue to polarize the House, and energize anti-abortion voters, in hopes of setting the stage for a Republican takeover of the House in November.”

The bill, like nine other 20-week bans that have been enacted across the country, uses medically disproven assertions about fetal pain to justify restricting access to abortion. It includes narrow exceptions for cases in which there is a “medical emergency” but does not include exceptions for fetal abnormalities.

Only about 1 percent of abortions are performed after 20 weeks, usually due to fetal abnormality or maternal health issues. Such bans are also likely to be struck down in court, as was the case recently in Arizona, because they unconstitutionally ban abortion pre-viability.

New 20-week bans are also being considered in South Carolina and Mississippi. South Carolina’s ban, like West Virginia’s, includes no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormality. Mississippi’s includes no exceptions for rape or incest.

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  • fiona64

    More legislators practicing medicine without a license …

    • five_by_five

      Just like those nasty legislators who passed laws that made what Kermit Gosnell did illegal.

      Those bastards.

      • Mirable

        You and Gosnell should get a room.

        • Jennifer Starr

          She should write him a thank-you note, actually–without him and children with Down Syndrome, what else would she use as a trolling prop to pretend she ‘cares about life’?

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            5×5 is female?

          • Jennifer Starr

            Actually, not sure–should’ve said she/he/it . Though reportedly it claims to be a she, though it is a compulsive liar so that doesn’t mean much.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            Whatever it is, I do not like it.

          • HeilMary1

            “It” is probably a pedophile priest.

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            That has crossed my mind.

          • cjvg

            Actually 5×5 cm is the size of its brain capacity, just enough to learn how to write, but not enough to have the capacity to understand what it reads or post links.
            It also seems to have no ability for empathy, compassion, honesty or realism.

            mean little bugger it is though

      • Shan

        Godwin’s Law needs an amendment regarding abortion debates, to include references to Gosnell and slavery.

        • fiona64

          Every time an anti-choicer brings up Hitler, I show them how he belongs squarely on their side of the fence.

          One does grow weary of the arguments that amount to “Selfish! Gosnell! Down Syndrome! Jesus!,” though … because it represents nothing whatsoever beyond bumper-sticker sloganeering (and, of course, we all know that it’s all the anti-choicers have in their armamentarium).

          • Shan

            Yes. It seems the closer they get to having to de-compartmentalize the discussion and acknowledge their cognitive dissonance, the more likely they are to suddenly holler “HITLER!” or “SLAVERY!” Or now “GOSNELL!”

      • cjvg

        So how many women are you supporting financially, physically and emotionally so they could afford to continue their pregnancies?!

        Are you donating money, are you getting the groceries for a mom and her kid, are you offering free child care, well?!

        • cjvg

          I’m still waiting for an answer!

      • cjvg

        He was convicted on laws that govern the illegal sale of drugs and on the laws that make murder illegal. None of these laws require practicing medicine without a license!!

        Gosnell was convicted off: conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, distribution and aiding and abetting the distribution of oxycodone and maintaining a place for the illegal distribution of controlled substances.
        As well as three counts of first-degree murder

        Damn reality is such a bitch

        • five_by_five

          Ha ha. You’re so confused that it is comical.

          You’ll notice the “practicing medicine without a license” comment by fiona64 was in reference to abortion restriction laws.

          The laws that made what Gosnell did an illegal abortion instead of a legal abortion were….wait for it…restrictions on abortion.

          Ya see, a woman cannot do whatever she wants, whenever she wants to her unborn baby. There are restrictions. So you can go cry all day about us “forced birthers” making these poor women not be able to slaughter 30 week old fetuses for convenience, but the law is against you.

          • Mirable
          • HeilMary1

            Mother killer / pedophile priest groupie you hates it when women survive deadly pregnancies by having legal abortions because that deprives your priests of fresh victims. ALL abortions are for maternal health reasons, LIAR.

          • cjvg

            Actually reading up on what you blabbing about would make your ridiculous attempts at passing of lies as a debate just slightly less boring.

            READ the trial transcript and the sentencing of Gosnell or heck just read the news for a change!

            http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/16/justice/pennsylvania-abortion-doctor-pills/index.html

            http://archive.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=338809

            http://www.12newsnow.com/story/24239435/philadelphia-abortion-doctor-kermit-gosnell-gets-30-years-for-pill-mill
            Look at that, in with one little search there are numerous reports on what he was convicted off. Yeah I know it so totally sucks that the rest of us are not ignorant little twits like you that are easily confused by your arrogance in passing of lies as a truth!

            NO WOMAN WHO HAD AN ABORTION THERE WAS EITHER INDICTED OR CONVICTED OF ANY CRIME!

            Ya see, choosing abortion is not a crime!

          • five_by_five

            “NO WOMAN WHO HAD AN ABORTION THERE WAS EITHER INDICTED OR CONVICTED OF ANY CRIME!”

            They should be. Unless that is, you think willingly killing a viable fetus should be legal.

            Hell, why not just allow mothers to kill their 2 year old when they become an inconvenience. After all, those 2-year olds are just lousy parasites that can’t support themselves.

          • Mirable

            What 2 year old lives inside a person’s body and physically assaults them? What would you do if a 2 year old stuck it’s head up inside your asshole sweetie?

          • cjvg

            Simplistic inane and non applicable statement.
            A fetus is not a baby or a toddler or a teenager or an adult!
            Stages of development, consciousness and sapience are a real thing. Although you might be the first fetus I have ever heard of who managed to skipped all those important milestones before getting born!

          • cjvg

            12 days ago
            So how many women are you supporting financially, physically and emotionally so they could afford to continue their pregnancies?!
            How many women did you save from becoming so desperate that they visited a Gosnell?!

            Are you donating money, are you getting the groceries for a mom and her kid, are you offering free child care, well?!

            2 days ago
            I’m still waiting for an answer!

            Yeah, you obviously are just a bag of air who enjoys their desperate attempts at making themselves feel like they are better then other people because you can shame and blame them.

            You are despicable

            Quick start making up something so you can pretend you are an actual human being