WVa’s 15-week abortion ban still on the table as session winds down

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Two bills aimed at restricting abortion access in West Virginia were still on the table Saturday as lawmakers gathered for the scheduled last day of the West Virginia legislative session. 2022.

A bill, which would ban abortions after 15 weeks except in medical emergencies or in cases of severe fetal abnormality, was in second reading in the Senate. The legislation is nearly identical to the Mississippi law currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The High Court’s decision in the Mississippi abortion case could overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade.

Current law in West Virginia prohibits abortions after 20 weeks. There is only one facility in the state that performs abortions, the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia in Charleston.

Another bill, which would ban abortions when parents believe their child will be born with a disability, was in third reading in the House. This bill requires physicians to submit a report to the state for each abortion they perform and whether “the presence or suspected presence of a disability in an unborn human being has been detected.”

The report should include the date of the abortion and the method used and also confirm that the doctor asked the patient if the abortion was chosen because the baby might have a disability.

Reports should be submitted within 15 days of each abortion, according to the bill. Patient names should be omitted.

A doctor who breaks the law could have their license to practice medicine suspended or revoked.

The bill provides exemptions in the event of a medical emergency or in cases where a fetus is “non-medically viable”.

The 15-week abortion ban – which provides no exemptions for victims of rape or incest – was passed in mid-February, then stalled at the Senate Health Committee for weeks before being voted on. lit Friday with little discussion. The only major change to the bill would be to delay its enactment until March 15, 2023. The committee’s lawyer said that would give the U.S. Supreme Court time to make a decision in the Mississippi case. .

Lawmakers decided to bypass a referral to the Judiciary Committee on Friday and send the bill directly to the Senate.

Lawmakers gathered Saturday in a snow-covered state Capitol with dozens of bills to finalize action Saturday before sine die. House Speaker Roger Hanshaw arrived late for a debate on the state budget bill because it was delayed by a car accident on the roads, which were still being cleared.

After two hours of debate in the House, lawmakers voted 90 to 9 to send a $4.635 billion budget to Republican Gov. Jim Justice’s office.

The bill includes 5% pay increases for state employees and teachers, with an additional increase for state troopers.

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