Ashton Marra Published

‘Pain Capable’ Abortion Ban Bill in Gov. Tomblin’s Hands


Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will soon decide whether he’ll sign a bill banning late-term abortions in West Virginia. The bill was approved by the Senate Wednesday after being approved by the House of Delegates two weeks prior.

The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act bans the practice 22 weeks after the mother’s last menstrual cycle, or 20 weeks post fertilization, the point at which supporters of the bill say the fetus can feel pain.

Democratic members of the Senate fought the bill on the floor Wednesday evening, calling it unconstitutional.

“Since Rowe vs. Wade was handed down the Supreme Court has been very clear that states cannot prohibit abortions prior to viability,” Sen. Corey Palumbo said as he fought to have an amendment approved by his fellow members.

Palumbo’s amendment would have pushed the ban from 22 to 24 weeks or viability, the point at which most doctors agree a fetus can survive on its own outside the womb. His amendment failed.

Sen. Herb Snyder tried to add an exemption for victims of rape and incest. That amendment also failed.

The Senate approved the bill, 29 to 5, with Senators Facemire, Miller, Palumbo, Romano and Snyder, all Democrats, voting against it.

Tomblin has five days to sign or veto the legislation. He vetoed a similar bill during the 2014 legislative session, but it takes only a simple majority to overturn a veto.