CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the legislation which would have made an abortion past the 20 week gestation mark illegal in West Virginia. Tomblin issued the veto late Friday saying the bill was unconstitutional and a detriment to women’s health.
The bill won approval in the House and Senate and would have made performing an abortion after the 20 week pregnancy time frame a felony. The bill called for punishment of no less than a year in prison for a doctor found in violation.
“I am advised, by not only attorneys from the Legislature, but through my own legal team that this bill is unconstitutional as shown by actions of the Supreme Court of the United States,” Tomblin in a statement issued with the veto. “The bill is also problematic because it unduly restricts the physician-patient relationship. All patients, particularly expectant mothers, require the best, most unfettered medical judgment and advice from their physicians regarding treatment options.”
Supporters of the bill claimed medical evidence showed the unborn baby was capable of experiencing pain at the 20 week gestation mark. Although there was debate about that among medical researchers.
Officials with West Virginia Free were pleased with the governor’s decision.
“HB 4588 would have taken away a woman’s ability to make extremely personal and often heartbreaking reproductive health care decision,” said Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of the organization in a statement released after the veto. “We believe that these decisions should be made by a woman in consultation with her physician, not by legislators. The Governor made the right choice in vetoing this bill and we are heartened by his decision to place his trust in the women of West Virginia and the medical community.”
West Virginians for Life, who hailed the bill as one that had already been adopted by ten other states were disappointed by the news.
“The Governor has placed himself in a minority position on this bill,” said West Virginians for Life President Wanda Franz.
“Nothing the Governor has done has changed the fact there is a substantial body of scientific evidence that unborn babies from 20 weeks old feel pain,” said West Virginians for Life Legislative Coordinator John Carey. “We expect a groundswell of support leading up to the 2015 session.”