News Law and Policy

West Virginia Legislature Overrides Governor’s 20-Week Abortion Ban Veto

Nina Liss-Schultz

The West Virginia legislature on Friday voted to override Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's veto of a 20-week abortion ban, joining the dozens of states in the country to ban abortion before the point of viability protected by Roe v. Wade.

The West Virginia legislature on Friday voted to override Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of a 20-week abortion ban, joining the dozens of states in the country to ban abortion before the point of viability protected by Roe v. Wade.

Tomblin, a Democrat, had vetoed HB 2568, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” this week after it was passed by the GOP-dominated state senate. In West Virginia, a simple majority vote in both chambers is necessary to override a governor’s veto. Both the state house and senate are majority-Republican, and voted 77-16 and 27-5, respectively, to override the veto.

The legislature’s vote marks the first time a governor’s veto has been overridden in West Virginia since 1987, according to the State Journal.

Tomblin vetoed a similar measure last year, calling the ban unconstitutional. Indeed, courts have blocked 20-week abortion bans in at least three states.

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Conservative legislatures have been relentless in their attempts to push through such bans, which rely on bunk science and the dubious claim that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks.

Several states this year have introduced 20-week bans, including Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia, and Oregon. Earlier this week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he would sign a 20-week ban measure if it came to his desk.

A 20-week abortion ban bill was introduced by Congressional Republicans in January, but was eventually pulled because of dissent over its too-narrow exception for rape.

The West Virginia law, which will take effect in late May, gives no exception for rape or incest.

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