Governor Vetoes Abortion Bill

Updated 4 years ago Edited from a Press Release

WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a controversial abortion bill following attorney's advice that the language and criminal penalties are unconstitutional.

Similar to Arizona legislation declared unconstitutional, the legislative action would have prevented abortions after 20 weeks in West Virginia.

“I believe there is no greater gift of love than the gift of life. I have stated this time and again throughout my career and it is reflected in my legislative voting record," Gov. Tomblin said in a press release

"However, I have vetoed HB 4588 because I am advised, by not only attorneys from the legislature, but through my own legal team that this bill is unconstitutional.

"The bill is also problematic because it unduly restricts the physician-patient relationship. All patients, particularly expectant mothers, require the best, most unfettered medical judgment and advice from their physicians regarding treatment options.

     "The medical community has made it clear to me that the criminal penalties this bill imposes will impede that advice, and those options, to the detriment of the health and safety of expectant mothers.”

Conrad Lucas , chairman of the WV Republican Party issued the following statement on the governor's decision to veto the late term abortion bill:

"We are saddened tonight by the ruling party's continued attacks on the sanctity of life in West Virginia. Both houses of our legislature succeeded in crafting a bill that would protect life and end abortions in children in the womb beyond 20 weeks, at which point doctors tell us those babies can feel pain.

Even more galling was the veto of this bill, late on a Friday, literally during the annual Rose Dinner celebrating pro-life beliefs, held in Morgantown by the West Virginians For Life.

All legislative Republicans voted that this bill was necessary to prevent abortions of babies who were viable, and end the practice of these killings up to moment of live birth in the ninth month.

If there is a legal question with this bill, it is for the courts to decide, not a lame duck Governor who claimed to be pro-life. Now, he joins liberal Democrats in ensuring babies in West Virginia are not safe even when carried to full term."

The bill survived a fiery Senate debate, then passed the House 83-15. The Senate wanted to alter the already ruled unconstitutional 20 week ban. They had proposed 24 weeks.

Sen. Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo had expressed frustration that the legislative body was willing to pass an already unconstitutional bill. Eventually, the House version containing the 20 week limit passed the Senate 29-5.

Attorneys for both the House and Senate had advised that the language would not likely survive a constitutional challenge.

House minority leader Tim Armstead (R), Kanawha, commented on the veto:

"It is difficult for me to find the words to express how disappointed I am in the Governor's veto. Because of his actions tonight, West Virginia will remain one of a small number of states that allow abortions for the full term of pregnancy, despite the fact the unborn child can feel pain.

National legal experts have expressed that the bill is constitutional. It is incredibly disappointing that the Governor did not choose to protect the lives of the unborn."

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