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W.Va. Senate passes late-term abortion ban

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For a second straight year, the West Virginia Legislature is poised to pass legislation banning late-term abortions in the state, with the Senate passing the ban (HB 2568) Wednesday on a 29-5 vote.

Senators rejected an amendment by Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, to make the ban apply once fetuses are viable to survive outside the womb, at about 24 weeks, which he said is the only way to make the legislation constitutional.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has been very clear [that] states may not prohibit abortion prior to viability,” he said. “We all have taken an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution, and if we don’t support this amendment, this bill is unconstitutional.”

However, Sen. Chris Walters, R-Putnam, said that when medical or legal evidence is in dispute, the Legislature is obligated to resolve such issues.

“It’s up to us to look at the medical evidence and say, ‘Yes, there’s evidence these children feel pain,’” he said, referring to the bill’s premise for banning late-term abortions.

Palumbo’s amendment was rejected on a 28-6 roll call vote. Senators also rejected on voice vote an amendment by Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, to provide exceptions in the case of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

“I say, if these two criminal issues are irrelevant, it is a very low day for any legislative body,” he said.

Unlike last year’s legislation, which was vetoed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on advice from his legal counsel, the bill does not provide any criminal penalties, but doctors who perform late-term abortions could have their medical licenses suspended or revoked.

The bill goes back to the House…

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