West Virginia Governor Vetoes Abortion Ban Bill For Second Time This Year

| by Ethan Brown
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West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) vetoed a proposed bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the second time he has done so this year.

The proposed legislation, formally titled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would not have allowed women to get abortions 20 weeks into their pregnancy – about the fifth month in a typical nine month pregnancy – unless the mother’s life was at risk or to halt any permanent harm to the mother. It also does not provide exceptions based on rape or incest cases.

Gov. Tomblin released a statement explaining his second veto on the legislation.

“As reflected in my voting record during my time in the Legislature, I believe there is no greater gift of love than the gift of life," Tomblin stated. "As governor, I must take into consideration a number of factors when reviewing legislation, including its constitutionality. At the start of the regular session, I urged members of the Legislature to consider a compromise that would help us establish legislation that would pass constitutional muster. Having received a substantially similar bill to the one vetoed last year on constitutional grounds, I must veto House Bill 2568.”

The governor vetoed a similar bill less than a year ago, on Mar. 29, 2014. That bill also carried an abortion ban after 20 weeks and was passed by both state legislative chambers, run by Democrats at the time. In his response, Tomblin was worried about “trampling the rights of women in West Virginia” if the legislation became law.

In the 2015 legislation, Republicans were the majority, again passing the legislation with overwhelming support. With the GOP’s majority in both state houses, Gov. Tomblin’s veto may be able to be removed with a simple majority vote. 

Banning abortions after 20 weeks has not just been a state issue. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives were scheduled to debate on federally banning abortions after the 20-week period, but cancelled those plans after intense opposition from women’s groups.

Sources: the Hill, WVVA.com, LA Times

Photo Credit: Governor Earl Ray Tomblin/Flickr, WVVA.com