Briana Heaney Published

Senate Passes Two Reproductive Rights Bills

A gavel next to a sign that reads the word abortion.Dollar Photo

The Senate is building momentum now that it is well into the second half of the legislative session. Ten bills were passed and sent to the House of Delegates; two bills were sent to the governor’s desk. 

Senate Bill 352

Abortion is banned in the state of West Virginia unless medically necessary, or if the pregnancy is no longer viable. There are also exceptions in the abortion ban in the case of rape.

Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, sponsored two notable bills related to pregnant persons in the state.  

Senate Bill 352 requires informed consent prior to a medically necessary abortion being performed. Informed consent means that the patients that are seeking an abortion must be informed of things like associated medical risks, the probable gestational age, and that perinatal hospital services are available before they decide to go through with the abortion. Some of the information doctors are required to present is on the Department of Health’s website. 

Those opposed to the bill say that the bill requires doctors to present patients with scientifically inaccurate propaganda. 

Rucker said this bill ensures that the patient has all the information that they need to make the decision to have a abortion. 

“This is a decision. We’re affecting life and death,” Rucker said. “It is a decision that will impact a woman’s life after the decision is made- whatever decision is made. So I think it is only the right thing to do that she has all the information available.”

Sen. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, voted against the bill and read a letter on the Senate floor Wednesday from a physician who urged him to do so. 

“I am horrified to learn that the Senate is attacking reproductive health care yet again by advancing Senate Bill 352,” Caputo read. “Banning abortion was not enough. Now lawmakers want to go after the very narrow exceptions afforded in the ban by further demeaning and degrading providers and patients who are deserving of respect and compassion. Enough is enough.”

The physician asked Caputo to try and stop the bill.

“It is dangerous, and far outside the mainstream of medicine,” Caputo read. “Organizations representing 1000s of clinic clinicians, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Nurse Midwives and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine have strongly opposed bills that place lawmakers in the position of interfering with how health care is provided to push a political agenda. ”

Senate Bill 620

Last year the legislature passed a bill that funded the mothers and babies pregnancy support program.

The grants under this program are for anti-abortion pregnancy centers, maternity homes, adoption agencies and “life-affirming social service organizations.”

Rucker’s other bill, Senate Bill 620, adds flexibility to the ways in which that funding can be used.