15-week abortion ban clears first hurdle

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 10:36 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Abortion has quickly become a first-priority item for West Virginia lawmakers.

The House Health and Human Resources Committee took up House Bill 4004 on Thursday. It is West Virginia’s attempt to mimic a Mississippi law that outlaws abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy.

West Virginia’s current threshold is 20 weeks.

If passed, the new law would make an exception for severe abnormality and medical emergency.

Republicans defeated six Democrat amendments Thursday -- that includes rejection of an exception for rape and incest.

Two witnesses spoke against the bill -- one shared the personal experience of needing an abortion. The other, a pro-choice reverend, spoke about counseling.

Del. Dean Jeffries, vice chairman of the committee, spoke of seeing his soon-to-be, twin grandsons at 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“I saw formed lips, eyelids, a nose,” said Jeffries, R-Kanawha. “At that point, I knew that this legislation is just and it is right.”

Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, spoke out against the legislation.

“That’s a decision that should be left to these families, to the women, to their doctors,” he said. “I love to return to the days when Republicans would just stay out of people’s bedrooms and out of their doctors’ offices.”

With Thursday’s approval from the House Health and Human Resources Committee, it now moves to Judiciary.

The full House could receive it for consideration next week.

The House has already scheduled a public hearing on the measure for 3 p.m. Monday in House Chambers.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi law still awaits a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was argued last month.

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