Bill on Taxpayer-Funded Abortions Gets Public Hearing in House

Feb 5, 2018

Updated: Monday, February 5, 2018 at 3:44 p.m.

 

The House of Delegates held a public hearing Monday on a bill that would remove abortion from a list of Medicaid services.

The House Judiciary Committee heard comments on House Bill 4012, which would eliminate taxpayer funding for medically necessary abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger.

Opponents argued the bill is unconstitutional. The West Virginia Supreme Court struck down a similar law in 1993, saying that it was discriminatory against low-income women.

Supporters of the bill cited various religious reasons and argued the cost should not be on the burden of taxpayers.

 

Roughly four times as many people spoke in opposition to the bill as those who spoke in support.

 

According to the state Department of Health and Human Resources, 1,560 Medicaid-funded abortions were performed in West Virginia during fiscal year 2017 -- coming in at a cost of nearly $330,000. Data from 2013 show 502 cases at a cost of nearly $280,000.

 

House Judiciary Chairman John Shott noted at the end of the hearing that the bill is likely to appear on his committee's agenda by the end of this week.

 

Senate Joint Resolution 12, declaring that nothing in the state Constitution protects the right to an abortion or requires the funding of the procedure, unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a voice vote Monday afternoon. The measure now heads to the Senate floor.

 

If adopted by a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the Legislature, SJR 12 would go to a vote of the general public to ratify it as a constitutional amendment on the November ballot.