CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill that would ban abortions in West Virginia after the 20 week mark in a pregnancy is advancing through the House of Delegates.
Supporters of the bill say it’s designed to protect unborn children or fetuses who, they maintain, can feel pain after that point in development.
On Monday, the House Health and Human Resources Committee advanced HB 4588 on a voice vote with no discussion.
That bill was next scheduled to go to the House Judiciary Committee, but House Health Committee Chairman Don Perdue (D-Wayne, 19,) said he would request the proposal, instead, go directly to the House floor.
The bill is similar to HB 2364. An attempt to bring that legislation directly to the House floor last week failed with a 48-48 vote and reportedly lead to a contentious, hours-long private Democratic caucus meeting.
Perdue said it was a procedural vote that did not kill the bill. “It was used for political fodder and that’s what’s wrong with that. If you can win the day, win the day,” he said.
On Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” Perdue raised questions about the legality of the proposal.
“The problem I’ve got with the bill isn’t necessarily what it’s intent is. The problem I’ve got with the bill is that its history has been shown it’s unconstitutional everywhere they’ve tried to do it,” he said.
The proposal includes civil and criminal punishments for violations of the ban. Such actions would be a felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and not less than a year in a state correctional facility. The pregnant woman would not be charged or fined.
Exceptions are provided in the legislation for abortions needed after 20 weeks because of a medical emergency.