CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill that will criminalize a doctor who performs an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation passed the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Thursday evening on a muffled, split voice vote.
The bill, which sets out to protect a fetus from pain by prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks, will be on second reading on the Senate floor today.
The Judiciary Committee’s attorney said that the bill as written is unconstitutional and violates the 14th Amendment by denying women equal protection of laws. The attorney said “alleged pain of fetus bills” similar to this one, particularly Arizona’s, have been found to be unconstitutional. Further, the attorney said, the bill violates a woman’s right to privacy.
Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land since 1973, and has been upheld in the Supreme Court since that time.
His legal expertise was countered by John Carey, the West Virginians For Life legislative liaison for 16 years, who said other states’ similar bills that were overturned have been about access to clinics, not fetal pain.
“What is constitutional?” Carey asked. He said there are eight states where attorneys general and legislators say similar laws are constitutional.
“This is a new question; we’re talking about the baby, we’re not talking about viability — we’re talking about pain,” he continued.
Carey said there is a substantial body of evidence to say that a fetus does feel pain.
Not so, said Dr. Luis Bracero, a physician with Charleston Area Medical Center who specializes in maternal and fetal medicine…