CHARLESTON, W.Va. – After three hours of heated debate, the House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved a bill Tuesday evening that bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill, which creates the Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed by a 79-17 margin. Four members were either absent or did not vote.
During a series of impassioned speeches, delegates cried, others yelled and a few laughed.
Several Republicans spoke in favor of the bill, calling it a move to protect the sanctity of life. A minority of Democrats argued it is a political stunt that infringes on the rights of women.
“I think all of you should be ashamed of yourselves for even bringing this to the floor of our statehouse,” said Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha.
“We’re worried about becoming as bad of a Legislature as some of the conservative legislatures we sit around and laugh at,” she said.
The proposal makes it a felony for anyone to perform or induce an abortion after 20 weeks unless there is a medical emergency.
A “reasonable medical judgment” determines if there is a complicating condition that would force the abortion in order to avoid death of the mother or “irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function,” according to the bill.
The exemption does not cover psychological or emotional conditions.
Republicans spoke in favor of the bill, championing it as a victory for protecting the unborn…