CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation that would ban abortions in West Virginia after 20 weeks, except in cases of medical emergencies, could be finalized on Saturday — the final day of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session.
Dr. Lori Tucker, an OB-GYN from Princeton, spoke out against the bill on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “The language in the bill is such that it’s pointing the finger a physicians and making us sound like we’re slaughtering and we’re not,” she said. “It’s not inherent for an OB to hurt a baby.”
But Father Brian O’Donnell, executive secretary of the West Virginia Catholic Conference, said the bill makes sense for West Virginia, a state that, he said, is largely a pro-life state without pro-life laws.
“This reflects their actual beliefs (West Virginians) and it also does something that’s not a small thing, which is it pays attention to the child in the womb,” said Father O’Donnell on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“The argument for this goes to the ability of the child in the womb to feel pain.” If an unborn child or fetus can feel pain, O’Donnell and other supporters of the bill have argued the state has an interest in protecting the fetus or unborn child.
Tucker said care for the fetus or unborn child is between a woman and her doctor. “There are so many flaws in this bill that limit the ability of an OB-GYN to take care of their patient appropriately,” she said.
After hearing from her and others, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the proposed bill on a voice vote on Thursday night and sent it to the Senate floor.
The House has already passed a different version of the bill, HB 4588, meaning a compromise may have to be reached before Saturday’s deadline. The 2014 Regular Legislative Session closes on Saturday night.
Attorneys in the Legislature have said the bill is unconstitutional because it prohibits abortions prior to fetal viability, a point that is generally thought to be between 23 and 24 weeks into a pregnancy.
Nine other states already ban abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization.