CHARLESTON, W.V. — The governor of West Virginia has vetoed a late-term abortion bill approved by both state Houses, stating that the legislation is likely unconstitutional.
Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin drew angst among pro-life groups after the move on Friday, as he is the first governor to reject a bill that seeks to ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation. Tomblin also professes to be pro-life.
“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,” he said following the veto. “However, I have vetoed [the bill] 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,” Tomblin continued. “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.”
“No person may perform or induce, or attempt to perform or induce, an abortion upon a woman when it has been determined … that the probable post fertilization age of the woman’s unborn child is twenty or more weeks unless there is reasonable medical judgment that she has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions,” the bill, HB4588, read.
The legislation, also known as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, also outlines that “[b]y eight weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human.” It notes that “[p]ain receptors are present no later than sixteen weeks after fertilization and nerves link these receptors to the brain’s thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than twenty weeks.”
Pro-life groups have been dismayed by Tomblin’s move, stating that it is far from a pro-life position.
“Gov. Tomblin’s veto of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is a total abandonment of the most vulnerable unborn children in West Virginia,” stated Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.
“The governor has placed himself in a minority position on this bill,” said Wanda Franz, president of West Virginians for Life.
Some organizations, however, do not favor late-term abortion bans as they still permit ending the lives of the unborn for the first several months of pregnancy.
“What about all the children before six months of pregnancy, Mr. Graham?” the organization Columbia Christians for Life asked when South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham proposed similar legislation. “‘The Silent Scream’ [documentary’s] ultrasound video of the suction abortion of an 11-week child has already shown us unborn children feel pain much earlier than your bogus 20-week pain capable bill—and this video was produced in 1984—almost 30 years ago!”