20-Week Abortion Ban Advances in West Virginia Senate


As pro-choice protesters gathered outside the West Virginia Senate chamber on Tuesday, the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee amended and voted to advance a controversial bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation in the state.

The committee’s amendment softened the bill somewhat by reducing the penalty against doctors from a felony with possible jail time to a misdemeanor and allowing for an abortion or induction if a fetus is not medically viable. But a provision requiring doctors to file detailed reports on every abortion remains intact.

Responding to the news, a Nebraska resident wrote an emotional plea to West Virginia legislators in the Charleston Gazette not to pass the new bill, which resembles a 20-week ban in her state that does not have an exception for nonviable fetuses or lesser penalties for doctors. Deaver said she suffered with an infection for ten days after her water broke prematurely at 22 weeks because her doctor said he could go to jail if he induced labor on her.

“We have been told women’s and doctor’s concerns are being heard. But the fact is, it is impossible to make palatable a bill that is this heinous,” Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of the reproductive justice organization WV Free, told RH Reality Check. “While penalties were lessened, this legislation takes away medical decision making and criminalizes doctors.”

“Frankly, I don’t want to be on call wondering if I’m going to be prosecuted for terminating a pregnancy,” said Dr. David Jude, an OB-GYN at the Marshall University School of Medicine, during the committee meeting.

An amendment to move the ban to 24 weeks by Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha) failed resoundingly. “It’s frustrating we’re apparently willing to pass a bill that, based on all the evidence out there, would be rejected by the courts as unconstitutional,” Palumbo said.

Twenty-week bans are unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade in that they ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb, which could mean a long and expensive legal battle for the state if the bill were to pass. Three states have passed 20-week bans and seen them blocked by courts for being unconstitutional, while nine have them still in effect.

A poll commissioned by Planned Parenthood Health Systems over the weekend showed that 62 percent of registered West Virginia voters in three key districts support access to abortion at 20 weeks once they are reminded that such abortions are very rare (about 1 percent of all procedures) and that fetal abnormalities are often involved.

The bill now moves to the state senate’s judiciary committee.

“Hundreds of calls and thousands of emails are pouring into Senate offices, yet the bill keeps traction,” said Chapman Pomponio. “I don’t know how we are to maintain confidence in the democratic system when the voice of the majority is ignored.”

Correction: A version of this article incorrectly noted that a provision of the 20-week ban that would allow family members of a woman who has had an abortion to seek an injunction against a doctor performing a later abortion was still in the bill; it is not. We regret the error.

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  • Mirable

    Yeah, because making a woman carry a non viable miscarrying fetus to term is compassionate.

    • Shan

      According to the article, the WV bill (HB 4588) supposedly has an exception for a “medically nonviable” fetus but I can’t find that anywhere in the text. Maybe I’m not reading it correctly or I’m looking at the wrong one…

      • Mirable

        I was commenting on the plea from the poor Nebraska resident.

        • Shan

          Ah, I see. Yes, that was so tragic.

      • L-dan

        Even if it does, it means doctors will have to second guess what ‘medically nonviable’ will mean to a judge or jury if a case is brought against them. With the requirement to submit extensive details of every abortion…that really looks like a plan to pick over those reports to find cases that can be prosecuted.

        • Mirable

          Like this story, which is not so clear cut:

          “””””””I am a 57-year-old Christian conservative grandmother who lives in NY State and has until recently been solidly a pro-life supporter. A few months ago my daughter and son-in-law became pregnant with their second child. At 24 weeks, a sonogram showed that the baby has no chance of survival. He is afflicted with a genetic disease of the kidneys. His kidneys are covered with cysts and no longer function. His lungs cannot develop. Due to a lack of fluid around him in the womb, he is becoming severely deformed with the condition known as Potter’s Syndrome.
          The doctors at the hospital agreed that my grandchild has 0% chance of survival. My daughter and her husband were told that they could either carry the child full-term, or they could have labor induced and deliver the baby then. They were both devastated by the fact that this child will not survive, but since the outcome will be the same however long they carry on the pregnancy, they decided to have labor induced and the child delivered. The procedure needed first to be approved by the hospital’s ethics committee, and after several days their approval was given and plans were being finalized to go ahead. Unfortunately, for some reason, lawyers became involved at this point. They made the decision that, according to NY State law, labor could not be induced because the mother’s life is not at risk. This medical procedure, which was being done for the good of both mother and child, had suddenly become an “abortion” under NY State law, and could not be done.
          Since then, my daughter has suffered more than any person should be forced to. She is at 31 weeks and in pain much of the time. With no fluid around the baby, he rests against the walls of the uterus and on very sensitive nerve endings. He is very active and the pain is at times severe. Little can be done for this. Taking strong pain-killers is not an option. My daughter refuses to spend her pregnancy in a drug-induced fog and unable to function as a mother. She is now also having contractions every day for at least an hour or two — more pain which might well have been avoided. Add to this the grief, not only of my daughter and her husband in carrying full-term a child they have had to make burial plans for, but the grief and confusion of their 3-year-old daughter.
          The baby, who has already been named Sam, is no doubt in considerable discomfort as well. He is crowded into a small area with no fluid around him. He has developed club feet and deformed hands. His face is shoved up against his body and becoming misshapen. His obvious discomfort is as painful to his parents as their own. He is loved beyond words by all of us. His being forced to suffer like this is inhumane at best. In my opinion, it is exceedingly cruel. His mom and dad talk to him, read to him, play music for him – anything to ease his distress at least a little.
          As I stated at the start of this letter, I have always been pro-life. Watching my kids and grandkids suffer due to a “pro-life” law has changed that. Induced labor in a case such as this should be a medical decision, not a legal one. A law written with the assumption that ANYONE getting an abortion in the third trimester is doing it for the heck of it, is ridiculous. I am totally against abortion in the case of women doing it because the baby is a “mistake” or “inconvenience”. But the laws need to be changed to differentiate between those cases and those of a pregnancy where the baby has absolutely NO chance of survival.
          I would ask if you can see the need for a change in this law, and what you will consider doing to prevent other women and families from going through this nightmare. Until the pro-life movement shows some common sense concerning situations such as this, I can no longer be a supporter.
          Sincerely,
          Karen””””””

          • Shan

            That’s just monstrous.

          • L-dan

            horrifying.

            This single case equals more human suffering than caused by that 1.2 million abortions the forced birthers like to toss about.

          • Mirable

            On the pro-life chat room where this was originally posted the lady didn’t get a whole lot of sympathy. The majority of posters kept insisting that to be TRULY pro-life means NO ABORTION FOR ANY REASON EVER.

            EDIT: and doctors are often wrong, the baby will magically improve and there really isn’t a problem at all

          • L-dan

            Well that’s not surprising. Since to be truly pro-life, by their definition, means to be without actual compassion or reasoning skills.

          • Mirable

            hahha.

            I like the ‘or reasoning skills’ tacked on at the end.

          • Shan

            Well, at least they’re intellectually honest. Not like the rape-exception ones.

          • L-dan

            That’s kind of the crux of their problem. They can remain intellectually/ideologically honest, or they can offer a bare ounce of compassion. Their positions don’t allow for both.

            That right there strikes me as a sign of a morally bankrupt position.

          • Shan

            I imagine the ones who “allow” for the rape exceptions (and from what I can tell, they’re in the majority, at least for now) have convinced themselves that they’re being compassionate but I think it’s just a flimsy band-aid they slap on in an attempt to mask their cognitive dissonance. When you point it out to “exceptionists” that if it’s acceptable to “murder” the “innocent child” for the sins of the father by only allowing women who were raped to have an abortion, it’s not about being “pro-life” but about justifying punishing women who choose to have sex, they either go straight to trying to argue about how rare rape pregnancies are or just go full-on irrational flip-out a la 5×5 and start accusing you of wanting to be legally allowed to smother your own teenagers because you’re an irresponsible, selfish wh0re who was too stupid to use birth control in the first place. Because, obvs, no compassion necessary for THOSE types, right?

            And, of course, legally forcing women to give birth is fine because the inherent trials and tribulations of pregnancy and childbirth will magically make previously irresponsible, selfish wh0res who were too stupid to use birth control suddenly fit to be good mothers to future generations should they decide to keep and raise the children they bear. Except that pregnancy is all rainbows and angel farts and super-easy and every woman should do it even if they don’t want to be a mom because they can just pop the baby out and hand it over to one of the hundreds of thousands of eager couples waiting to adopt.

            Oh, ouch. Typing that last paragraph really damaged my logic filter.

          • Mirable

            The rape exception is known as the ‘responsibility objection’ and they try to say that if you are responsible for putting someone in a place of need, where their life depends upon you, and only you can help them, then you are legally obligated to preserve their life.

            This way, they can ignore rape, and they can also ignore car accidents etc., because the person injured in the car accident can get the blood transfusion/kidney etc from another donor. Which basically works out, conveniently enough, with pregnancy being the ONLY circumstance in which bodily donation to save a life is considered acceptable.

          • Shan

            Sorry, Mirable…I am already too broken to function that…

          • Mirable

            PL logic is twisted.

          • L-dan

            They can’t ignore the care accident analogy though, since kidney donation really doesn’t work such that *anyone* can donate.

            Besides, if the deal is that it’s your responsibility, why would you be allowed to weasel out of it and let someone else suffer the risks of surgery to donate their kidney?

            As a further addition, since the fetus is responsible for impacting the health of the mother, how come they’re off the hook for any ‘consequences’?

            All in all, that’s a ridiculous rabbit hole. To assume that I have any responsibility for a barely developed non-person requires a huge stretch of logic.

          • Mirable

            My favorite rebuttal to what you just said is this: pregnancy is natural, organ donation is not.

          • Ella Warnock

            That’s some disingenuous bullshit right there, isn’t it?

          • Mirable

            Yeah well, that is the reasoning offered up by the guy who told me that ” pregnancy is a state of wellness because it is a natural part of the human life cycle” was * not* an example of the naturalistic fallacy.

          • cjvg

            Death is also a normal part of the human life cycle, I don’t think you can call it a state of wellness though

          • Mirable

            Are these people intellectually dishonest or just stupid!?

          • L-dan

            I’m gonna go with yes.

          • Ella Warnock

            Heh, I see what you did there.

          • Mirable

            Scroll down and see what she said about pl reasoning skills…I am still chuckling over that one.

          • Ella Warnock

            I agree, good one.

          • L-dan

            I love that particular answer. It’s my way of ‘embracing the power of yes.’ A phrase I’ve shamelessly stolen from someone doing an improv. workshop at faire many years ago.

          • cjvg

            Intellectually dishonest, they completely rely on falsehoods, innuendo, irrelevant personal attacks, moving the goal posts, etc etc

          • Ella Warnock

            And mawkish sentimentality.

          • cjvg

            Oooh, I completely forgot about the oozing effluent of inane sentimentality
            The babeez, the babeez, you are hurting the babeez

          • L-dan

            So much yes. You’re tearing apart babies, killing babies…etc.

            And then the flip side of over the top contempt to go with it. Slutz be stupid…so it’s not fair to the babiez that they’re killing them when they’re just stupid slutz who had slutty sex.

            Gah.

          • cjvg

            Strangly enough they are never concerned that these innocent babeez are going to have slutty whores for a mother.
            Really how are the babeez ever going to grow up Christian with these slutty whores for mothers

          • L-dan

            Oh no, that’s where the cries of adoption come in. Since obviously someone who thinks like they do…not someone who thinks that slutting around and getting abortions is an option…would be much better qualified to raise that poor babiee.

            Just, you know, they aren’t personally offering to do it. But someone will. They’re sure of it.

          • HeilMary1

            So long as the adoptive couples aren’t gay! — they then prefer the unwanted kids rot forever in foster care.

          • cjvg

            yeah well, by the time they have worked through the backlog of children waiting to be adopted or at least fostered, this kid will have aged out of the system. I really don’t think that is working that well (or at all to be honest about it)

          • Ella Warnock

            Not just baybeez, but INNOCENT baybeez!

          • cjvg

            Damn I forgot about how INNOCENT the baybeez are. Must be my evil not innocent pro-choice mind!

          • L-dan

            So’s miscarriage. By that standard an abortion is generally a more ‘natural’ procedure than organ donation. That makes it better, right?

            Besides…what does that even have to do with the central moral issue there? It’s like arguing with walls.

          • Mirable

            I argue with my kitteh.

          • L-dan

            OK..they’re about as reasonable as a whining cat.

            *raow*

            You haven’t eaten the food you’ve got, nope.

            *raow*

            OK then…you want attention…snuggles time!!! *fearsome squirming* *didn’t want attention*

            *flees for about 10 seconds*

            *raow*

            Nope

            *raow*

            still nope

            ….lather, rinse, repeat.

          • L-dan

            *offers logic duct tape for filter repair*

            It really does come down to fetishizing fetuses and damning women for having sex and/or for not *wanting* to be good little mothers like deity intended. There just isn’t a logical way to demonize abortion entirely unless you’re willing to ignore the lives of the actual people who get pregnant.

          • Mirable

            I just read hobby lobbys objections to birth control on salon, and apparently they believe that birth control will lead to women denying their true nature and the eventual downfall of society. All of this is a moral and * health* crisis, apparently.

          • Ella Warnock

            I’m responsible for the downfall of society!

            YESSSS! ::fist pump::

          • Mirable
          • Ella Warnock

            A tiny excerpt of some drivel from the “Beverly Lahaye Institute”:

            “out of wedlock childbearing being a chief predictor of female poverty”

            Ah, well, you’d think they’d want to see a lot less out of wedlock childbearing. Which birth control can help with.

            Ooooh, wait, I get it. They want to see a lot less of it by ladies keeping their legs together. That’s the kind of birth control they’re talking about!

          • L-dan

            And getting hitched. There’s a lot of ‘promoting marriage will reduce poverty’ nonsense on that side of the aisle.

          • Ella Warnock

            Marriage as some magical state of being where no domestic violence, abortion, or poverty ever happens.

          • Mirable
          • Ella Warnock

            So this dipshit was so abysmally stupid that he never could have seen any of what transpired coming. He thought she’d just buckle under and have a kid she didn’t want with someone she planned to get away from. Idiot.

          • King Rat

            Yep!!

            BTW, my new nym is great, is it not. I foresee anti-choicers telling me that it is descriptive of my morally bankrupt beliefs:P

          • Ella Warnock

            Yeah, they’ll say you’re the King Rat of “demonRATS.”

          • L-dan

            Welp…if that’s the heart of their legal argument, I hope they’re soundly trounced. At least one justice ought to roll their eyes at that nonsense.

            Seriously Hobby Lobby? You sell popsicle sticks and fabric glue…saving society is really not in your business model.

          • goatini

            “denying their true nature”

            Translation: women are chattel property livestock

          • lady_black

            Goody. I sure hope they’re DUMB enough state that in court.

          • Shan

            I just got unexpectedly crazy busy at work so I’m out for a while. Carry on!

          • Ella Warnock

            You left out getting an abortion for selfish, wh0re-y reasons, but then seeing the error of her wicked ways (with a little . . . no, wait, a LOT) of prodding from the antis in her life, seeks “healing” from Rachel’s Vineyard. In that case it’s perfectly okay to have had an abortion so that you can serve as an example to other selfish s!uts that they WILL suffer horrible guilt and abject sorrow until their dying day.

          • cjvg

            I’m sorry to say, SHE does not get much sympathy from me either but for different reasons.

          • Mirable

            I showed the writeup to myintx, who does not believe in health exceptions for abortion, and she said, surprise surprise, that the doctors are often wrong and the baby could be just fine!

          • cjvg

            That cretin is right about that. I never thought a human could survive without a brain function but she keeps proving me wrong. Its a miracle, a miracle I tell ya

          • goatini

            Ah yes, the “Maybe Sky Daddy will do a magic trick” forced-birth (ir)rationale.

          • HeilMary1

            Sky Daddy did do one such miracle:

            http://www . foxnews . com/health/2013/09/06/congresswoman-infant-daughter-may-be-first-baby-to-survive-potter-syndrome/

          • lady_black

            She’s an IDIOT.

          • cjvg

            While I feel enormous sympathy and regret for the suffering of her daughter, the fetus and the son in law as well as their first child, I can not muster that much sympathy for this grandmother

            She has always been pro-life and has never seen the need to change her mind despite the FACT that there have been plenty of stories just like her daughters since the beginning of time!!

            Lets just consider this for a bit, she obviously had no compassion or second thoughts about her position, all those times she heard about any other woman going through this until it affected her personally.

            Why should I pity her the pain she is feeling, why is her pain so much more important then those of other women who suffered for her believes?.

            Only her own pain has had the impact to make her consider that maybe these decisions should be made by the women suffering the consequences off the convictions of her and others like her!

            The exact same pain that other women suffered for her believes did not change her mind, How selfish and blatantly cruel these people are until they finally experience the pain they inflict on others without a second thought or care

            I guess in some small way her actions are somewhat admirable since she did openly acknowledge being wrong, but again only because she finally suffered the consequences of her own convictions

            And still this experience did not give her the integrity and sufficient empathy to actually changed her stance completely. She now approves of abortion only for cases like those of her daughter, since she now believes that pain and suffering is real because one of hers suffered the consequences for her own believes.

            She still does not respecting the fact that she has no clue what other women go through and therefore should not attempt to remove from other women the power to make their own personal medical decisions!

          • FreeFlowingVerse

            Exactly! It is like that Superman dude getting all righteous about paralysis after getting bucked off the horse. You didn’t see him give a shit when he was bouncing in and out of phone booths!

          • HeilMary1

            http://en . wikipedia . org/wiki/Christopher_Reeve

            “…Reeve used his celebrity status for good causes. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he visited terminally ill children. He joined the Board of Directors for the worldwide charity Save the Children. In 1979, he served as a track and field coach at the Special Olympics, alongside O. J. Simpson….”

            “…He campaigned for Senator Patrick Leahy and made speeches throughout the state. He served as a board member for the Charles Lindbergh Fund, which promotes environmentally safe technologies. He lent support to causes such as Amnesty International, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and People for the American Way. He joined the Environmental Air Force, and used his Cheyenne II turboprop plane to take government officials and journalists over areas of environmental damage. In the fall of 1987, 77 actors in Santiago, Chile were threatened with execution by the dictator Augusto Pinochet. Reeve was asked by Ariel Dorfman to help save their lives. Reeve flew to Chile and helped lead a protest march….”

          • L-dan

            All of that.

            I mean, I’m glad she spoke up, since it might make a few folks with the actual ability to empathize with others think and shift their stance.
            But I’m not feeling like she’s particularly meritorious.

          • cjvg

            That is exactly what I felt (wrote) after I read her story, just a little longer

          • P. McCoy

            I could be caustic, but I don’t have the heart to be. I am very sorry for your family’s suffering and loss. But in the midst of it all, you have moved a step forward to understanding what pro choice people fight for. I hope your daughter will come through this alive and able to recover. Any help you can give in our struggle would be appreciated.

          • Mirable

            It isn’t me which is why it’s in quotes. And Karen is a hypocrite.

          • HeilMary1

            Karen thinks only her daughter is worthy of choices.

          • P. McCoy

            My apologies.

      • anja

        Bad legislation like this is exactly why the US so badly needs the Woman’s Health Protection Act that’s in the Senate. It’s unfortunate they’re are to many misguided republicans in the House and too much out side financial pressure for it to become law.

    • cjvg

      Absolutely suffering is good for the soul. Now you are guaranteed a place in Christian heaven, regardless if you want to go there or not

  • five_by_five

    Protesters?

    I hope they were enforcing a buffer zone.

    • HeilMary1

      Stalker, don’t you have a “baby tampon” funeral you should be attending?