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West Virginia passes 20-week ‘fetal pain’ abortion ban: overrides governor’s veto

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CHARLESTON, WV, March 6, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – West Virginia has become the 11th state to pass legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks today, as the state Senate voted to override Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's veto.

On Friday, the West Virginia state Senate voted to enact the pro-life protections by a vote of 22-5.

The House of Delegates voted to overturn Tomblin's veto on Wednesday, 77-16. Seven members did not vote or were absent.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.B. 2568) is set to become law 90 days after today's vote.

Only 51 state Delegates and 18 state Senators were needed to override the veto.

The state Senators who voted against enacting the pro-life law were: Sens. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia; Doug Facemire, D-Braxton; Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha; Mike Romano, D-Harrison; and Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson.

“I believe there is no greater gift of love than the gift of life,” Gov. Tomblin said as he announced he would attempt to kill the fetal pain bill – wording nearly identical to his veto of a similar bill last March. Tomblin said he based his veto on a consideration of the bill's “constitutionality.”

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards denounced the measure, which would prevent anyone in the state from subjecting a child to abortion after he or she can feel pain, as “cruel and dangerous.”

Pro-abortion activists doubled-down on that sentiment after today's vote. "Governor Tomblin was right to veto this callous, cruel and unconstitutional attack on health care for women facing complicated and sometimes dangerous situations in their lives and pregnancies," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is based in New York state. "With this action today, the politicians behind this law have revealed how far they are willing to go to advance their ideological agenda at the expense of women's rights, lives and safety.”

“They should be ashamed,” Northup added.

But national pro-life leaders applauded the legislators.

“We commend the members of the legislature who supported this bill for their courage and compassion by adding their voices in favor of protecting pain-capable unborn children who are unable to speak for themselves,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., director of state legislation for the National Right to Life Committee. “We condemn Governor Tomblin for his cowardice and indifference toward the innocent, unborn child who is capable of great suffering from the violence of abortion.”

They were also outraged by Tomblin's reference to revering life in his veto message. "Governor Tomblin cannot claim to be pro-life and then veto a bill that seeks to protect unborn children who can feel pain from abortions," said Karen Cross, National Right to Life political director."Unborn children who recoil from painful stimuli and who must routinely be given anesthesia when operated on will still be painfully killed in West Virginia because of the callousness demonstrated by Governor Tomblin."

While 10 other states have passed some form of fetal pain bill, the law is in effect in only eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas.

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The Arkansas 20-week abortion ban was also enacted over the veto of a Democratic governor, Michael Beebe. Abortion advocates have attempted to halt the laws in the courts.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, has promised to defend the law from the anticipated legal challenges it will face. House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, told the Associated Press, “I frankly hope we don't have to try that out in court, but we'll see.”

This marks the first time since 1987 that West Virginia legislators have overturned a governor's veto.

The votes paralleled the bill's original passage. The House of Delegates passed the bill by an 82-12 vote on February 11, and the state Senate approved the pro-life bill by a 29-5 margin on February 25. 

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