CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The debate over the bill to outlaw abortion in West Virginia continues Wednesday, with the entire House weighing in.
Since the bill’s proposal on Monday, Democrats in the House of Delegates have tried to amend the bill in both the House Health and Judiciary Committees.
One of those amendments was to change the state’s proposed abortion bill to allow victims of rape and incest the right to abortion.
“Mountaineers are supposed to be free. House Bill 302 does not show any freedom. It is oppression,” said House Delegate Danielle Walker (D) Monongalia.
Both of those attempts, however, were rejected by the majority vote.
“We’re sorry that we weren’t able to make amendments against rape and abortion in Health and Judiciary this morning,” said House Delegate Lisa Zukoff (D) Marshall. “We’re sorry that folks don’t understand that you have the knowledge and should have the power to make those decisions for yourself.”
If the bill were to become law, the only exceptions would be fetal anomalies, ectopic pregnancies and medical emergencies.
“I think, right now, Republicans are holding strong on this, and as it stands now, I think it’ll pass with no amendments,” said House Delegate Kathie Hess Crouse (R) Putnam. “I want to vote on a bill that has no exceptions on it. That’s where I stand.”
Other attempted amendments by Democrats were to repeal the bill’s criminal penalties, which subject a doctor who performs abortions or gives abortion medications to three to 10 years in prison. The mother would not be punished.
Democrats argue that this bill will leave people with one option, self-induced abortions.
“This attempt on reproductive rights is an assassination. It will kill people,” Walker said.
Republicans, on the other hand, argue that the bill will be saving millions of babies’ lives.
“I believe this is a strong pro-life bill. So, I am happy with the construction of the bill as it stands right now,” said House Delegate Jonathan Pinson (R) Mason.
The Judiciary Committee did approve an amendment that would protect the life of a baby if the abortion doesn’t terminate the pregnancy.
“My preference is that life begins at conception and I’m not going to play God and I don’t want other people to play God to take away that life,” Crouse said.
The debate will continue Wednesday, July 27, when the public can also weigh in.
“I stand before you telling you it’s time to take a stand,” Walker said.
The public hearing will start at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Building.
Once that is over, the bill will go to the full House for a vote.