CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Two Monongalia County Delegates plan a Monday news conference to introduce a bill to preserve a patient’s right to an abortion. Delegates Danielle Walker and Evan Hansen will address the public and media at 10:30 a.m. in the Lower Rotunda in the Capitol about House Bill 4382.
“It repeals numerous provisions in state code that restrict a patient’s right to abortion,” Hansen said. “So, we would be operating through what’s allowed through Roe v. Wade.”
The 1973 court decision said women have right to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.
Current West Virginia law requires a woman to receive counseling, a 24-hour wait and parental notification. The procedure cannot be performed after 20 weeks and can only be funded with public money under extreme circumstances.
“There are numerous barriers in place that make difficult to access abortion in West Virginia, and it’s especially difficult for low-income people,” Hansen said.
On the second day of the current legislative session the Republican majority introduced House Bill 4004, the 15 week abortion bill. That bill makes an abortion after 15 weeks illegal unless there is a medical emergency or “severe fetal abnormality.” House Bill 4004 is identical to a Mississippi law that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule later this year.
More than 20 people spoke during an emotional public hearing about the bill. At the time, legal director for the West Virginia ACLU, Loree Stark said, “This is yet another attempt by legislators to regulate abortion out of existence.”
Hansen believes there is support for removing the barriers to abortion.
“It’s a decision made between a patient and her healthcare professional and faith leader- I think there’s a lot of support but the legislature is moving in the other direction,” Hansen said.
The 15-week abortion bill was passed on day two of the session out of the House Health Committee and has since stalled House Judiciary Committee. Hansen believes a key deadline could get the 15-week bill, and other controversial measures moving.
“The candidate filing period is going to end and we’ll know within a few days who has filed to run,” Hansen said. “So, I would expect that bill and some of the other hot-button social issues would start to move.”