A new poll in West Virginia indicates that conservatives in the state legislature might be out of touch with voters when it comes to reproductive rights.
The poll, taken by West Virginia Free, a reproductive health, rights, and justice nonprofit, found that the majority of state residents don’t think that the government should legislate access to abortion and other reproductive services.
Fifty-six percent of residents oppose the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which found that the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement violated the craft company’s religious rights.
The West Virginia legislature is majority Democrat, but that hasn’t stopped conservatives from pushing anti-choice measures, including some that have made their way to the governor’s desk.
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On the books, West Virginia has a waiting period law, which requires that abortion providers read a script to patients 24 hours before the procedure, and a parental notification law requiring that minors seeking an abortion notify their parent or guardian beforehand.
Several legislators in February introduced the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” a targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) law that would have required a physician with admitting privileges at a local hospital remain on the premises of the abortion clinic in case a patient needs to be transferred following an abortion.
Critics of TRAP laws charge that it creates an undue burden on providers who offer abortion, which is one of the most safe surgical procedures, resulting in many fewer complications than pregnancy. The bill, HB 4593, failed to pass in committee.
The legislature also introduced in February a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Such bans, which have been introduced across the country, are based on junk science that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks. The bill, HB 4588 and called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, was eventually vetoed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
WV Free found that 55 percent of West Virginians would strongly oppose the legislature if it continued to push for the 20-week abortion ban.
“West Virginians do not support laws that interfere with a doctor’s ability to provide quality health care to patients,” WV Free Executive Director Margaret Chapman Pomponio said in a statement. “The three areas of top interest to voters are jobs, health care, and water quality. Simply put, the people of this state don’t want politicians wasting time on regressive political attacks that hurt West Virginia women.”