CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall, 2) promises movement in the Senate in the closing week of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session on the proposed Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
“I have no problem with it passing in the right form,” said Kessler of HB 4588 which would ban abortions in West Virginia after 20 weeks into a pregnancy except in cases of medical emergencies.
Members of the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee will first take up the bill this week, followed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Supporters have argued fetuses or unborn children can feel pain at 20 weeks in development and the state has a duty, under the law, to offer them protection. Opponents, though, have said the bill is unconstitutional.
“It’s not my intention to do anything other than to get the bill in good shape so that we give it a thorough and good review so that we can protect the lives of the unborn surely,” said Kessler.
“But, in addition to that, we need to also make sure that we give due consideration to the terrible and horrible decisions that a woman has to make in those difficult times.”
In the House bill, performing late-term abortions that do not fall under the prescribed medical exceptions would be felonies, punishable by fines of up to $5,000 and one to five year prison sentences. The doctor would be punished. There are no penalties for the woman involved.
Kessler said that punitive part of the bill would get a close look from Senators.
“These situations are not as clear cut as they may seem to be, so we’re going to give to give it a good, thorough review and it’s my instructions to my folks to work the bill,” said Kessler.
Members of the House of Delegates approved the bill with a 79-17 vote last week. The 2014 Regular Session closes on Saturday night.