CHARLESTON, W.V. — Lawmakers in West Virginia are considering a resolution that would put forward a ballot initiative for voters to amend the state Constitution to note that there is nothing therein that enshrines a “right” to an abortion or a requirement to fund it.
Senate Joint Resolution 12 was presented by Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, and was advanced on Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee via a voice vote.
The proposed resolution, known as the “Acknowledging Legislative Authority Relating to Protection of Innocent Life Amendment” will read, “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”
Rucker told reporters that the resolution would counter a 1993 West Virginia Supreme Court ruling that struck down a law banning Medicaid funding of abortions.
Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, who is co-sponsoring the resolution with over a dozen other senators, said that a state constitutional amendment would make it possible for West Virginia to ban abortion should the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturn Roe v. Wade and send the matter back to the states.
“[We] are hopeful we’ll get a Supreme Court that actually reads the Constitution and doesn’t make it up as they go along, and if they do, someday that decision is going to be overturned,” he told the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
“We wouldn’t want our state Supreme Court to suddenly find a right to abortion,” Karnes outlined. “So what this says is, if that were to happen, if this resolution is adopted, then it would be within the purview of the state legislature to determine what the laws in the state of West Virginia are going to be regarding abortion.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has expressed opposition to the resolution, claiming that lawmakers are using women for political gain.
“It’s so frustrating because this constitutional amendment is political cynicism at its absolute worst,” Joseph Cohen, the executive director of the ACLU of West Virginia told reporters. “It is being run for political purposes—that we have no doubt about—and to use women, poor women and working class women, as pawns for political gain is nauseating.”
If the resolution passes, it will be placed on the November ballot for voter consideration.
As previously reported, in his 1854 lecture at the University of Pennsylvania on criminal abortion, obstetrician Hugh Hodge declared, “[H]uman life commences at the time of conception; … the embryo and fetus therefore should be protected during its intra-uterine life as sedulously as after birth.”
“Hence, that all efforts, direct or indirect, to disturb the progress of gestation or to injure the product of conception are criminal, alike violating the laws of nature and of God,” he stated.
Psalm 139:13-14 also declares, “For Thou hast possessed my reins; Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.”