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West Virginia Legislature Introduces Bill to Ban Abortion at 15 Weeks

A proposal nearly identical to the Mississippi law currently under review by the United States Supreme Court to ban abortion at 15 weeks has been introduced in the West Virginia legislature.

The bill has cleared the state’s House health committee and will go to the judiciary committee. It will go to the full House if it passes the judiciary committee.

The bill would ban abortions after 15 weeks. There are just two exceptions: medical emergencies or in the case of a severe fetal abnormality. There are no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

Representative Ruth Rowan, a Republican and the bill’s chief sponsor, recalled to reporters that her daughter considered ending her pregnancy when doctors told her it would be risky. The child, now 17 and a student at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind is “our miracle,” she said. “He’s why I’m so committed to what I’m doing right now. Life is precious, and we need to respect that.”

Rowan described West Virginia as “a Christian state where people care about their families and their children.”

Most speakers in the West Virginia House are against the bill. Only five men out of 17 speakers voiced their support for the bill during a public hearing on Monday.

Loree Stark, who is the legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union’s West Virginia chapter, has also spoken out against it.

“The bill before this Legislature, if passed and enacted, would fly in the face of longstanding, established legal precedent … If the state of Mississippi seeks to support that law today, it would be doing so in the face of constitutional precedent,” she said. “This [in West Virginia] is a Legislature that has often not been too concerned with its obligations under the Constitution, but regardless, those obligations exist.”

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