On Friday, West Virginia banned abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy when the legislature succeeded in overriding a veto by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
As Breitbart News reported, both chambers of the state legislature passed the measure overwhelmingly, but Tomblin—who claims to be pro-life—vetoed the measure for the second year in a row over concerns about its constitutionality. On Wednesday, the House of Delegates voted to override his veto 77-16, and the state Senate voted 27-5 on Friday, according to Reuters. The law will take effect May 26.
The law provides exemptions for women past the fifth month of pregnancy in medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest. Additionally, the language in the new law requires that, even for exempted abortions past the 20-week period, doctors must terminate pregnancies in a way that gives “the best opportunity for the fetus to survive.”
Similar laws have been passed in a dozen other states, based on scientific evidence pertaining to the point at which unborn babies can feel pain in utero. A federal version of the Pain-Capable bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013 but was pulled from the floor of the House in January when a group of Republicans expressed concern about a rape reporting requirement in the bill. The same language in the bill, however, passed two years earlier.
“The House of Delegates vote to override Governor Tomblin’s shameful veto was the first veto override since 1987,” president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a press release. “This historic effort is emblematic of the momentum building nationwide to protect children and women in the late stages of pregnancy.”
“Americans are united in their opposition to brutal, barbaric abortions past the point at which the baby can feel pain,” she continued. “We thank the bold pro-life lawmakers who led this fight. Their efforts reflect the reality that women support this measure in even higher numbers than men.”
Pro-life leaders have assailed the U.S. House for its failure to pass the Pain-Capable bill ostensibly because of concerns about language in the bill regarding rape—and also likely due to political fears.
“The recent failure of the House of Representatives to act on the Pain-Capable legislation is doubly tragic because the law is hung up over an issue that is a) unjust and b) likely a null set,” Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told Breitbart News recently.
“Neither of the two most comprehensive studies of the reasons women seek late-term abortions includes an act of rape as a rationale,” he continued. “In fact, the reasons women typically cite are similar in nature to the reasons women have abortions generally—economic circumstances, lack of support from the father, or future education concerns.”
Similarly, Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, told Breitbart News that politics is preventing the U.S. House bill from moving forward.
“Some politicians are trying to do damage control over misstatements about rape in the past by pro-life lawmakers,” Pavone said. “But it’s time we do some damage control over the painful dismemberment of children. Yes, we need to speak and act sensitively and compassionately regarding rape. But children in the womb have no less of a claim on that sensitive compassion—and therein lies the problem.”
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, explained to Breitbart News that the pro-abortion rights groups claim they support abortion because they are concerned about women’s health, even though abortion becomes riskier for women at the 20-week point.
“The United States is in the company of China, North Korea, and Canada, as the only countries in the world that permit abortion for any reason after viability,” Yoest said. “Because the abortion lobby is so extreme and abortion is a multi-million-dollar business, we are sacrificing not only unborn children, but women’s health as well for profits.”