CHARLESTON, W.Va. — House Minority Leader Tim Armstead disagrees with House Speaker Tim Miley’s assertion that it’s too late for a possible veto override for the fetal pain bill, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy except in cases of medical emergencies.
“To me, from reviewing it, I believe that it’s consistent with two of the three co-equal branches of government, being able to co-exist and the interrelations between the governor and the Legislature, I think we can override a veto,” said Armstead (R-Kanawha, 40).
A guest on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” Armstead cited legal opinions from state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Bob Bastress, a law professor at West Virginia University.
Both have said they believe lawmakers have the power to override a veto in a special session, even though the regular session has ended.
In a letter sent to House members last week, however, Miley (D-Harrison, 48) wrote: “I have consulted with our Clerk and House attorneys, and it’s clear to them and to me that once the Legislature adjourns sine die at the end of the regular or an extended session, the ability to further consider legislation from the session ends.”
He reiterated that view on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was approved with an 83-15 vote in the House and a 29-5 vote in the Senate during the 2014 Regular Legislative Session. Last month, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed HB 4588 calling it unconstitutional and unduly restrictive to the doctor-patient relationship.
Supporters of the legislation have continued to argue the ban is needed because an unborn child or fetus can feel pain at the 20 week mark in development.
Those with West Virginians for Life are circulating a petition among lawmakers. If three-fifths of the members of both the state Senate and state House of Delegates sign that petition, Tomblin would be forced to include the bill on a special session agenda—possibly as early as next month.
“I support that effort. I think that is the proper way to go,” said Armstead, who predicted the majority of House Republicans would likely support a petition. He said he does not know what pro-life House Democrats will do.
“It’s important to decide whether we are OK, as a state, with allowing abortions to go forward when that child can feel pain.”