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CHARLESTON — Today the W.V. Senate advanced Senate Bill 468, a bill that bans abortion based on the supposed reason behind a person’s decision. Physicians who violate the provision would be subject to the loss of their medical license.

S.B. 468 would prevent a person from having an abortion if they are seeking one because of the results of prenatal testing, including the “presence or presumed presence of a genetic, physical, emotional, or intellectual disability or diagnosis.” The bill was amended in committee to make exceptions for “severe fetal conditions” that are “incompatible with life outside the womb”. However, unlike so-called reason bans passed in other states, West Virginia’s bill still applies to a broad range of fetal diagnoses. As a result, even when confronted with a prenatal diagnosis that would lead to an early, painful death — such as Tay- Sachs disease — parents would not have the option to end the pregnancy.

This bill does nothing to empower individuals with disabilities, and it fails to protect each family’s right to make personal medical decisions,” said Emily Womeldorff, Constituency Engagement Specialist for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “Pregnancy decisions are private and often complex. No matter your personal views on abortion, we should all agree that these decisions are best left to individuals and their families with the counsel of a trusted health care provider. The true intent behind this law is to hand the power and control over to politicians who want to make those decisions for us.”  

S.B. 468 passed just hours before the “crossover” deadline and will now be considered by the W.V. House. This is the second abortion ban that lawmakers have advanced this legislative session. On February 15, the House of Delegates passed House Bill 4004, a bill banning abortion starting at 15 weeks of pregnancy. It now awaits a hearing in the Senate. HB 4004 is similar to the abortion ban passed by the state of Mississippi and brought to the U.S. Supreme Court last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade