CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An addition to the West Virginia Constitution addressing state funding for abortions may or may not come out of Tuesday’s Election Day.
Amendment One is the first of two proposed amendments on ballots across the Mountain State.
Voters are being asked to vote either ‘for’ or ‘against’ the addition of the following language:
“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”
“Our focus has always been on trying to stop state funding of elective abortions in West Virginia,” said Wanda Franz, president of West Virginians for Life — the leading organization working in support of the measure.
But Margaret Chapman-Pomponio, executive director of West Virginia Free, a reproductive freedom advocacy organization, said Amendment One was not just about Medicaid funding for abortions.
“You can see in the language itself right there that it’s much more expansive than that,” she said.
In her words, the proposal is “really dangerous” for West Virginia.
“We’re talking about changing our Constitution here with something so extreme that has no protections for victims of rape or when the pregnancy puts the woman’s life at risk and so we’ve just got to vote against this,” Chapman-Pomponio said.
Franz argued, as proposed, Amendment One will overturn a 1993 3-2 ruling from the West Virginia Supreme Court, called the Panepinto case, which found that medically-necessary abortions could not be denied to the poor.
That ruling invalidated a previous law restricting the use of Medicaid dollars for abortions except in cases of medical necessity, rape or incest.
That piece of code said the following: “The Legislature intends that the state’s Medicaid program not provide coverage for abortion on demand and that abortion services be provided only as expressly provided for in this section.”
“Once the law is re-instated, it is already on the books. Those exceptions are already in the law. They’re sitting there waiting to be revived,” Franz said when asked why exceptions were not included in Amendment One.
“What we were doing was removing the block on the law,” she said.
A simple majority vote is required for ratification.
The separate Amendment Two, as proposed, deals with legislative oversight for the judiciary’s budget.
Polls will be open in West Virginia for Tuesday’s Election Day from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
MetroNews coverage of the results of Decision 2018 begins at 7:06 p.m. Tuesday on the MetroNews Radio Network and on the MetroNews Channel at wvmetronews.com.