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West Virginia voters will decide if abortion is a constitutional ‘right’

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

CHARLESTON, West Virginia, March 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – West Virginia voters will decide in the upcoming November general election if their state Constitution should be amended to explicitly declare that abortion is not a "right" nor "requires...funding."

A majority of the House of Delegates (73-25) voted on Monday to include the following question on the ballot: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” 

The amendment is aimed at overriding a 1993 West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruling that determined that Medicaid must fund abortions since the court said it was a "right" under the state Constitution.

“Passage of Amendment 1 will take West Virginia taxpayers out of the business of paying for abortion on demand,” National Right to Life summarized.​

Del. Marty Gearheart, one of the lawmakers who voted to include the pro-life amendment on the ballot, called the move "democracy."

"I'm all for us having direct democracy on this issue and giving people the right to vote on it. It will be on the ballot. Obviously, I'm a long-time pro-life supporter and I'll be voting in favor of it in November," he said. 

Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkin praised the move as a step in overturning the 1973 supreme court abortion decision Roe v. Wade.

“We know that Roe v. Wade will someday be overturned, and this is exactly the kind of ground game that policy leaders should be championing across the country,” she said. “State leaders must prepare for the day Roe v. Wade falls, as have other deeply flawed cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson or Dred Scott vs. Sanford.”

“Both Dred Scott and Plessy involved human rights violations and atrocities,” Hawkins, a West Virginian, added. “Abortion is the human rights issue of our day, and rights of the unborn should not be ignored in our laws just because they have no voice to speak for themselves.”

Pro-life leaders say that if the amendment passes, it would prepare the ground to halt Medicaid funding of abortions. West Virginia is one of 13 states forced by judicial fiat to use the people’s money to pay for killing pre-born children (Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont).  Four additional states (Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Washington) use tax dollars for abortions.

Medicaid doled out $10 million for about 35,000 West Virginians to be aborted since the 1993 Supreme Court ruling, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Of these, 1,560 took place last year alone.

The amendment does not criminalize abortion, nor does it affect in any way the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision. It merely legislatively pulls the rug out from under the state’s Supreme Court 1993 “Panepinto” decision that mandated tax-funding of abortions.

“If this amendment is ratified by the voters in November, women will still have access to abortion under the Federal Constitution,” West Virginians for Life president Dr. Wanda Franz told the National Right to Life. “States cannot override (a U.S. Supreme Court) ruling.”

West Virginians for Life legislative liaison Karen Cross hopes that the amendment passes and that state money will no longer enable elective abortions. “We know that limiting abortion funding saves lives,” Cross said. “In fact, 2 million people are alive today because of the federal Hyde Amendment.”

If the Panepinto decision is reversed, the state’s previous abortion law would take over.  That law followed federal law in funneling taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry in cases of rape or incest. West Virginia law adds cases of “fetal anomaly.” Abortions are also allowed when the mother’s life is in danger.

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