CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Potentially reinstating what one delegate called a “medieval bill,” the West Virginia House Health and Human Resources Committee passed the 1800s abortion bill Monday.
It’s known as HB 302. It comes after Governor Justice pushed the legislature to “clarify and modernize” the state’s abortion laws.
However, under what is outlined in this bill, victims of rape and incest, as well as those with mental disabilities would have to carry a pregnancy to term.
“As it stands right now, I think the bill is unreasonable and it doesn’t reflect West Virginia values,” says State Senator (D-Greenbrier) and Senate Minority Leader, Stephen Baldwin. “It does not have exceptions for rape or incest, it does have criminal penalties for doctors, and so it’s very similar to the law from the 1800s, the outright ban, it’s a ban without those exemptions.”
Justice’s initial motive for yesterday’s special legislative session was to get support for his 10% income tax cut plan.
His announcement about the addition of an abortion law discussion came 13 minutes after the session’s rescheduled start time, leaving lawmakers with limited time to prepare.
But, Justice says the abortion law addition onto the session had nothing to do with the tax cut, that it was just a matter of the party’s readiness to talk about it.
“There have been media that has said to me, “did you do that really and truly so that you can make more progress on your tax cut?” And I would say to you that you can’t possibly insult me any more,” Governor Justice says. “The importance of it (abortion issue) is off of the chart, tenfold.”
While the full outline was not yet available to the public, the bill allows abortions only in the case of the mother’s life being compromised. Otherwise, abortions are subject to felony charges and jail time.
The bill was passed 16 to 6, with six being opposed to it. It will now move on to the House Judiciary Committee before moving to the full House of Delegates.
A joint public hearing will be held in the house chamber on Wednesday at 9 a.m.