CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s Senate has advanced a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would authorize lawmakers to restrict abortion rights.
Senate Joint Resolution 12 says: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”
Approved 25-9 Friday, it would require two-thirds passage by the House also and a voter referendum to take effect. Democrats Mike Woelfel of Cabell County, Roman Prezioso of Marion County and John Unger of Berkeley County broke from party lines to approve the measure.
The resolution mirrors a Tennessee amendment that recently was upheld in a federal appeals court.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 upheld women’s constitutional rights to abortion.
West Virginia’s Supreme Court in 1993 upheld the right to Medicaid funding for abortions.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Trump said ending public abortion funding is the real aim. A bill has been introduced in the House to prohibit Medicaid funding from covering abortions unless it would save the life of the mother.
An amendment to the resolution, introduced by Democrats, would have added exclusions for cases of rape and incest, but was voted down.
Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone and a physician, said the state’s obstetricians and gynecologists oppose the interference in women and their doctors making the best health care decisions for them.
During a public hearing Monday regarding the House bill, a Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine OB/GYN resident said this type of interference could cause him to leave his home state to practice medicine elsewhere.
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