CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new poll shows many West Virginians are opposed to banning abortions after 20 weeks in a pregnancy when they’re told abortions at that stage are very rare and happen, in many cases, because of problems in pregnancy.
“It’s not a simple black and white issue,” said Melissa Reed, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Health Systems, of abortions after 20 weeks. “This is a very complex decision for a woman to make in consultation with her doctors and West Virginians believe that politicians have no place in that decision making.”
A bill that’s moving in the Senate in the final week of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session would make such abortions illegal except in cases of medical emergencies. With HB 4588, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, performing late-term abortions would become felony crimes and doctors convicted of the crimes would face jail time.
Reed was a guest on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” to talk about the poll Public Policy Polling conducted in three Senate districts — those represented by Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall, 2), Sen. Larry Edgell (D-Wetzel, 2), Senate Health Committee Chair Dr. Ron Stollings (D-Boone, 7), Sen. Art Kirkendoll (D-Logan, 7), Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha, 17) and Sen. Brooks McCabe (D-Kanawha, 17).
It showed 62 percent of registered voters in the three Senate districts supported access to abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy when they were told about specific circumstances where such abortions may be needed. Most involved health problems for the fetus or child.
The poll questions were specifically worded, Reed said, on purpose. “When you just give a very generalized statement (about an abortion ban), people will say, ‘Yeah, that sounds right.’ But when you dig deeper and you talk about the real life, tragic circumstances that families sometimes face, then they make a different decision.”
The House has already approved the bill. Supporters have said 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 of the bill in the House argued the bill is unconstitutional.
This year’s 60-day session ends on Saturday night at the State Capitol.