West Virginia became the first Democrat-controlled state to pass a 20-week abortion ban over the weekend.
The West Virginia House passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act 85-15 and the state Senate passed it 25-9. Both chambers are majority Democrat — 53-47 in the House and 24-10 in the Senate.
The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s desk. While he self-describes as pro-life, the Associated Press reports he has voiced concerns that the ban could be unconstitutional.
And though the bill is not yet, law pro-life groups are already cheering the bill’s passage and calling on West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin to co-sponsor federal legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks.
“West Virginia will soon become the latest state to pass legislation to protect unborn children from the painful death of abortion after 20 weeks – more than halfway through pregnancy,” Marjorie Dannenfelser president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List President said.
“Momentum is growing for this popular measure to move forward in Washington as well, where Senate Democrats should take a cue from their West Virginia counterparts,” she added. “We encourage Senator Joe Manchin to embrace his self-avowed pro-life position and become the first Democratic cosponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”
Manchin, however, is still considering the legislation.
“I am pro-life and supportive of the principles in the bill that was just passed in the West Virginia Legislature,” he said in an emailed statement to TheDC. “I am currently evaluating the constitutionality of the legislation and working with my colleagues to make sure we can pursue a bill that will pass the Senate. My main goal, and one that we can all agree on, is reducing the number of abortions in this country.”
The pro-choice group, VW Free has been attacking the legislation as “a deceptive bill that would take away a woman’s ability to make an extremely personal medical decision” and had called on lawmakers to reject it.
“This legislation would prohibit abortion after twenty weeks except when a woman has a medical emergency and is one of the most extreme bans on abortion that West Virginia has seen in years,” the group contended. “One-size-fits-all legislation is dangerous to women and their families. Tell your elected officials that you don’t want them to play politics with a woman’s.”
VW Free is currently advising supporters to call the governor to urge him to veto the bill.