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WV Dems Criticize Legislative Process That Led to Near-Total Abortion Ban


Tuesday, October 11, 2022   

An eight-week abortion ban signed into law last month by Gov. Jim Justice has received widespread criticism for its lack of exceptions and severity of punishment for doctors who perform the medical procedure.

Some in West Virginia are criticizing what they call a "behind closed doors" legislative process to pass the bill.

Sen. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, said the legislation was not vetted by any legislative committee, and did not receive a single public hearing where physicians and other affected groups were asked to testify.

"I'm a coal miner, I'm a doctor," Caputo stated. "I want to hear from OB-GYNs, I want to hear from women, I want to hear their stories before I make a decision like that. And I think that every legislator should have been afforded the right to hear that."

The bill also requires physicians to report the date of the abortion and the name of the performing physician to a legislative oversight committee. Republican lawmakers argued the legislation is a compromise, and includes exceptions for cases of rape or incest or in cases where the life of the pregnant person is in danger.

But Caputo countered the exceptions in the abortion ban are "smoke and mirrors." He believes the legislation imposes numerous, extremely time-sensitive obstacles, including requiring adult survivors of sexual assault to report the assault to law enforcement at least 48 hours before an abortion, which must be performed within the first eight weeks of pregnancy.

"Now, let's think about that," Caputo urged. "It's the most traumatic time an individual would be going through."

He explained he wants residents to consider how the new law may affect them or their loved ones. He added voting is the only way to change what he sees as devastating legislation which will compromise the reproductive health of hundreds of thousands of West Virginia women.

"It's in the hands of the voting public," Caputo stated. "They need to be educated of who those legislators were that took away their individual right to reproductive decisions."

While the majority of Democratic voters in West Virginia consider themselves pro-choice, and the majority of Republican voters consider themselves pro-life, fewer than one-fifth of Republicans have voiced support for a full abortion ban, according to a recent poll by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

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