CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginians for Life lobbyist John Carey said on MetroNews Talkline Friday the organization is continuing its efforts to collect enough signatures from state lawmakers to force a legislative session on the vetoed fetal pain bill.
Carey already has the required 60 percent of the 34-member Senate who have signed on but is currently three signatures short of that percentage in the 100-member House. He said Friday he remains confident.
“I’m getting some call backs from some folks who want to sign on. I’m encouraged that we’re getting close to where we need to be,” he said.
The fetal pain bill would make abortions illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The House and Senate gave it overwhelming approval earlier this year but Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed it because of concerns about its constitutionality and concerns expressed by doctors.
West Virginia Free lobbyist Margaret Chapman-Pomponio said on Talkline Friday the legislature and governor have spoken and the issue should be put to rest.
“It makes no sense to return to this issue and take up so much time and resources when we could be focused on issues like jobs, the economy and education,” she said.
Carey said supporters can address some of the governor’s concerns but there will be no compromise on the 20-week issue. Gov. Tomblin previously told MetroNews 24-weeks would be more favorable to him.
Chapman-Pomponio said women and doctors are being left out of the discussion.
“We really believe that we have to advocate for physicians to practice medicine in their best medical judgment,” she said.
Carey said supporters would rather have the governor call a special session instead of the rare petition process being used. State Senate President Jeff Kessler advocated a similar move earlier this week. Carey said the momentum is with pro-life forces.
“A lot of the arguments that have been used to keep this issue from coming forward are going away,” he said. “I think it’s becoming pretty clear that little by little we are winning this debate.”
Tomblin has said he would veto the bill again if it stays in its present form.