On Friday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-WV) vetoed a bill that would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks. The governor had the courage to do this in spite of his Democratic-controlled House and Senate passing the measure by a large margin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data in 2010 seven women in West Virginia terminated their pregnancies after 20 weeks of gestation. Despite those numbers these 20-week bans have been a popular way state lawmakers can interfere in your most private decisions. There was a similar ban in Arizona that was struck down by a federal court and refused a hearing in the Supreme Court.
Here’s Tomblin’s statement:
“I have vetoed HB 4588 because I am advised, by not only attorneys from the Legislature, but through my own legal team, that this bill is unconstitutional. The bill is also problematic because it unduly restricts the physician-patient relationship. All patients, particularly expectant mothers, require the best, most unfettered medical judgment and advice from their physicians regarding treatment options. The medical community has made it clear to me that the criminal penalties this bill imposes will impede that advice, and those options, to the detriment of the health and safety of expectant mothers.”
What Tomblin didn’t say, but what we know is that nearly 99% of abortions in the U.S. occur before 21 weeks gestation. In that small fraction that occur past that, it’s often due to rare, severe fetal abnormalities – in other words for pregnancies that have gone tragically wrong.
It’s great to see a lawmaker standing up for the health and privacy of women.