Our rapid descent into a fully fledged wingnut run state continues:
The West Virginia House of Delegates began moving a bill Thursday to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill is very similar to one that was passed last year, only to be vetoed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
The bill is one of 11 introduced so far this legislative session that seek to restrict women’s access to abortion.
A similar bill passed both houses of the Legislature last year with overwhelming bipartisan support but was vetoed by Tomblin, who said he had been advised that it was unconstitutional.
The House Health Committee held a public hearing on the bill before discussing it and ultimately passing it 20-5.
The public hearing had 25 speakers against the bill and 8 speaking in favor, although neither side seemed likely to change the other’s mind.
This year’s bill (HB2568) would ban abortions that occur more than 22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. While that is a change in language from last year’s bill, it does not seem to be a change in practice, as the bill defines that time as “generally consistent with the time that is twenty weeks after fertilization.”
The bill contains some exceptions for medical emergencies or non-viable fetuses.
In medical emergencies the bill says, somewhat quizzically, that “an abortion …shall terminate the pregnancy in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the fetus to survive.”
An amendment from three Democratic delegates that would have added an exception for cases of rape or incest failed, largely along party lines.
The bill is named the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Some fun facts about West Virginia:
• In 2011, there were 4 abortion providers in West Virginia; 2 of those were clinics. This represents no change in overall providers and a no change in clinics from 2008, when there were 4 abortion providers overall, of which 2 were abortion clinics.
• In 2011, 89% of U.S. counties had no abortion clinic. 38% of American women lived in these counties, which meant they would have to travel outside their county to obtain an abortion. Of women obtaining abortions in 2008, one-third traveled more than 25 miles.
• In 2011, 98% of West Virginia counties had no abortion clinic. 90% of West Virginia women lived in these counties.
This is dated, and to my knowledge, there are only two places to have an abortion in WV now (.pdf), and both are in Kanawha county. Neither of them provides abortions after 20 weeks, and Women’s Health Services in WV only provides abortions up to 16 weeks.
So, in other words, this bill, if it is not vetoed by Tomblin, will accomplish nothing. It will not “save” one life. It’s just another way to gin up the culture wars and keep the godbotherers happy, and is a total waste of time, energy, and resources, because it will have ZERO impact on anything other than let some religious nuts babble on about the culture of life.
Speaking of the culture of life, it’s too bad those unborn fetuses don’t drink WV water, because then the fanatics in the legislature might stop doing shit like this:
As few as 90 of the thousands of chemical storage tanks across West Virginia might be covered by new state Department of Environmental Protection safety requirements passed after last year’s Freedom Industries leak, if legislation introduced this week passes, according to a new analysis of DEP data.
That’s 0.2 percent of the nearly 44,000 tanks listed in a database the DEP put together with owner registrations.
Downstream Strategies, a Morgantown-based environmental consultant, analyzed the data and released its findings in conjunction with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.
“Senate Bill 373 passed with the promise that our water supplies would be protected,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of the Rivers Coalition. “The fact that the Legislature is now introducing bills that exclude 99.8 percent of tanks is a betrayal of that promise. We cannot accept our lawmakers turning their back on public safety and ignoring what we learned last year about the vulnerability of our water.”
More on that bill:
Thousands of chemical storage tanks across West Virginia would be exempt from the law passed in the wake of the Freedom Industries spill, under legislation introduced Tuesday in the House of Delegates.
The bill (HB2574) would rewrite the definition of “above-ground storage tank” so that only tanks located within “zones of critical concern” near public drinking water intakes would be subject to new state safety standards and inspection requirements.
“The bill is an extreme gutting of the protections the Legislature passed unanimously last year,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “It makes us question if anything was learned at all from the water crisis, as this essentially returns us to where we were with underregulated above-ground storage tanks threatening our water.”
The bill, which was sent to the Judiciary Committee, has 11 co-sponsors. The lead sponsor is Delegate Bob Ashley, R-Roane. The four Democratic co-sponsors include House Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison.
Industry lobbyists have been pushing for months for changes in last year’s landmark law, despite the fact that the state Department of Environmental Protection is still writing rules to implement that law. DEP officials are using a “risk-based approach” that mandates registration with DEP for all tanks, but reserves the strongest regulatory oversight for tanks whose size, location and contents makes them potential public health threats.
Among other things, the 40-page bill would exempt from the law any above-ground storage tanks with a capacity of 10,000 gallons or less. Current law is much broader, covering tanks with a capacity of 1,320 gallons.
“That’s a bit much,” DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said of the proposed change in the size of tanks covered by the law. “That takes a lot of tanks that do pose a risk to our public drinking water supplies out of the regulatory structure.”
Mind you, this legislation is in RESPONSE to the leak that poisoned the water of 300,000 West Virginians. A bill gutting existing laws and hampering future laws designed to protect drinking water.
That, folks, is what it looks like when Jesus and Big Business take the wheel.