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Ban on abortion after 20 weeks passes Senate

Mar. 08, 2014 @ 08:00 PM

CHARLESTON — A West Virginia House Bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy cleared the Senate Saturday, 25-9.

The House still had to give the bill final approval as of press time.

The bill would make West Virginia one of 10 states that asserts a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.

“We were an outlier state in that we didn’t have any regulations,” said Sen. Evan Jenkins, R-Cabell. “Now we’re part of this growing movement."

House Bill 4588 was read in its entirety before the Senate took a vote.

Sen. Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, had made a motion before the Senate got to bills on third reading that every bill in that section be read in its entirety in an effort to filibuster the abortion bill.

The Senate went into recess and the rules committee decided to move the bill from third to last on the agenda to first.

Wells said afterward he didn’t plan to filibuster all night, but did intend to read Roe v. Wade to the Senate.

He also accused the Senate of making a politically-motivated vote, rather than voting their conscience.

His remarks were supported by Sen. Don Cookman, D-Hampshire, who said the state should be focusing on children who are living in poverty or drug-infested homes.

Jenkins disagreed with Wells’ remarks.

“It’s always unfortunate when someone wants to point fingers at public legislators and suggest why they did or didn’t vote for something,” he said. “Don’t cast stones at others. Every member, I believe, is voting for what they believe is best for the state of West Virginia, and best for their constituency certainly.”

Whether the move is legal is ultimately up to the courts.

Wells predicted the measure would not survive the legal challenges that are sure to come.

Jenkins said the measure likely will be tested at some point.

“You hear a lot about whether something is constitutional,” he said. “Every branch (of government) has their opinion, but it’s the courts that decide. This hasn’t made it to the U.S. Supreme Court yet.”