Senator will again try to move threshold in fetal pain bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he will again try to alter the timeframe in the fetal pain bill, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, when his committee takes it up on Thursday.

HB 4588 would ban abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy in West Virginia except in cases of medical emergencies.  The argument is the fetus or unborn child can feel pain at that point in development.  If the bill becomes law, doctors who perform such abortions could be charged with misdemeanor crimes.

Sen. Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha, 17)

Sen. Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha, 17) said adjusting the threshold within the bill from 20 weeks to 24 weeks or viability would protect the legislation from potential court challenges.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a woman’s right to an abortion extends until viability, widely accepted at 24 weeks, when a child could potentially survive outside of the womb.

“It’s obvious to me that the long line of cases that started with Roe v. Wade and has gone all the way through to today that have indicated that states cannot prohibit abortions pre-viability is still the law of the land,” he said.

But John Carey, legislative coordinator for West Virginians For Life, disagreed.  “National Right To Life knows how to run bills.  We’re the ones who got the partial birth abortion (ban) through,” he said.

“This is not a bunch of evangelicals who are just reacting emotionally and have their feet entrenched in the ground.  It’s based on legal precedent.”

Carey said they have the people of West Virginia on their side.  “If you look at the specifics, what we are putting forth is really what the people want,” he said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

Palumbo unsuccessfully attempted to change the bill in the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday and said he would attempt the same on Thursday.

“The safest way to make sure this bill is going to be upheld is just to replace the 20 weeks with viability,” he said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

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