CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – A special session that commenced at the beginning of the week, Democratic Legislatures are hard at work in the state capitol.
They are reworking 1800s state abortion laws that could have a vast impact on women across West Virginia. This comes after June’s Roe v. Wade overturn in the U.S Supreme Court, leaving the abortion laws now up to the states to decide.
Friday’s update from the West Virginia legislators also comes after the 1800s law, Bill 302 was passed in the House of Delegates earlier this week.
It’s a bill with few exceptions, and the Senate is trying to amend it the best that they can.
“We do not believe that at the end of the day these exceptions that were placed in this bill on the House of Delegates are real exceptions, we think they are paper exceptions that are not going to have a real impact,” says West Virginia Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin. “The bottom line is that we should not be making these decisions.”
The Senate had a House bill put before them that is not the final version that they expected to be voting on. They find the bill to be too radical, as it would not allow room for doctors to make exceptions and could essentially put them in jail.
While they expect no support, the Senate has a series of amendments to Bill 302 that they plan to offer, including the removal of criminal penalties on doctors. They also want to repeal the 1849 law that makes the process a question of a criminal act for struggling pregnant mothers.
“This will be devasting to the OBGYN community, to people who are searching for when they are pregnant for a doctor to deliver their baby who want it to be healthy, the problem is, we already have OBGYN deserts here in West Virginia, and so this is just going to make it worse,” West Virginia Senator Ron Stollings says.
As the state is already in the midst of a maternal and child welfare crisis, Senate legislators hope their amendments to the abortion bill can be considered.
A version of the Senate’s bill is still pending, they planned to go on the floor Friday afternoon to begin debating it.