Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill late Friday that would have banned abortions of fetuses after 20 weeks gestation. The governor called the bill unconstitutional and a “detriment” to women’s health.
The bill (HB4588) would have made it a felony, punishable by not less than a year in prison, to perform an abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation, except in instances in which there are physical complications that place the woman at risk of death or serious irreversible physical impairment.
“I am advised, by not only attorneys from the Legislature, but through my own legal team that this bill is unconstitutional as shown by actions of the Supreme Court of the United States,” Tomblin said in a written statement.
Arizona was among several states to pass similar laws, but a federal appeals court struck down the Arizona law last year, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused in January to hear the state’s appeal.
Tomblin said the West Virginia bill “is also problematic because it unduly restricts the physician-patient relationship. All patients, particularly expectant mothers, require the best, most unfettered medical judgment and advice from their physicians regarding treatment options.”
“The medical community has made it clear to me the legal penalties this bill imposes will impede that advice, and those options, to the detriment of the health and safety of expectant mothers,” he said.
The governor also said, “I believe there is no greater gift of love than the gift of life. I have stated this time and again throughout my career and it is reflected in my legislative voting record.”
I’m actually kind of stunned.