CHARLESTON, WV, March 31, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life activists on both sides of the aisle are reacting to a veto from West Virginia's Democratic governor on a bill that would have banned most late-term abortions in the state.
Despite bipartisan support for a statewide ban on most abortions after 20 weeks, West Virginia's governor vetoed the legislation after it reached his desk. The bill, which passed through the state's Democratic-controlled Senate and House by respective margins (29-5 and 79-17, respectively) is similar to laws enacted in many states and has passed the House of Representatives.
Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin cited legal and practical reasons for his veto, specifically how a similar bill was declared unconstitutional by a federal court last year. The governor also said punishments for having an abortion after 20 weeks provided an undue burden on pregnant women.
“I believe there is no greater gift of love than the gift of life,” Tomblin said as he vetoed the bill.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser called the governor's statement “high-profile hypocrisy.”
“Shame on Governor Tomblin for turning his back on unborn children and women by vetoing a compassionate, common sense limit passed with overwhelming bipartisan support,” Dannenfelser said.
National Right to Life Committee president Carol Tobias said Tomblin's veto means “he can no longer be considered a 'pro-life' governor.”
Some believe the vote was designed to allow other Democrats to retain the “pro-life” label without any tangible results. Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins said she believed the bill “was the plan of the Democratic leadership in West Virginia all along, to allow the bill to pass so their vulnerable Democrat members could vote pro-life before an important election and then have lame-duck governor veto the bill.”
One national Democrat who is not happy with the governor's decision is Democrats for Life of America Executive Director Kristen Day. In an e-mail to LifeSiteNews, Day expressed her interest in supporting a press conference and petition drive to overturn the veto.
Both events are taking place on Tuesday, but Day says organizers have not included DFLA in either event as of press time.
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The state's delegation to Congress is generally considered pro-life, with Manchin and another Democrat, as well as one Republican, supporting life. Only Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat, is pro-abortion. Representative Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, has garnered a mixed record that leans pro-life.
Dannenfelser also called on Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia to “lead the nation where Governor Tomblin has so shamefully failed” by supporting a 20-weeks ban at the national level. That bill has passed the House but languished in the Democrat-controlled Senate.