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West Virginia Senate committee wants to put right to abortion on the ballot


Charleston Gazette-Mail

Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginians would vote in November on an amendment to the state constitution that says nothing in the constitution “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion,” if a resolution approved by state lawmakers in one committee Monday continues to progress.

Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson and the lead sponsor, said the the bill would undo a 1993 state Supreme Court decision on Medicaid-funded abortions. That year, the state Supreme Court overturned a state law banning Medicaid funding of abortion, finding that the law violated poor women’s constitutional rights.

She said the resolution says, “No matter what, the Legislature will determine what the future use of our tax dollars are.”
Some lawmakers and at least one constitutional lawyer have questioned whether another bill working its way through the Legislature this year, banning Medicaid funding of abortions except to save the life of the mother is unconstitutional, because of that 1993 decision.

Another bill sponsor, Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, said the amendment would mean the Medicaid-funded abortion bill would stand up in court.  That bill passed the House of Delegates health committee last month and was the subject of a public hearing Monday morning.

Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur
(Photo by Perry Bennett, West Virginia Legislative Photography)

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