(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
A bill that would ban most abortions 20 weeks after conception has passed the West Virginia Legislature and awaits the signature of the state governor.
Known as House Bill 4588, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed the proposed legislation Saturday.
"Except in the case of a medical emergency, no abortion may be performed or induced or be attempted to be performed or induced unless the physician performing or inducing it has first made a determination of the probable post fertilization age of the unborn child or relied upon such a determination made by another physician," reads HB 4588 in part.
"No person may perform or induce, or attempt to perform or induce, an abortion upon a woman when it has been determined, by the physician performing or inducing or attempting to perform or induce the abortion or by another physician upon whose determination that physician relies, that the probable post fertilization age of the woman's unborn child is twenty or more weeks unless there is reasonable medical judgment that she has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion…"
West Virginians for Life released a statement Sunday hailing the passage of HB 4588, also known as the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act."
"The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will protect West Virginia's unborn babies, who can feel pain, and asserts a compelling state interest in protecting the unborn child from pain," stated the pro-life organization.
"Scientific research demonstrates that unborn babies can feel pain beginning by at least 20 weeks after conception."
HB 4588 was introduced in February and then immediately sent to the House Committee on Health and Human Resources.
In late February, it was read three times before the House and passed by the Delegates in a vote of 79 yeas, 17 nays, and 4 abstentions.
From there it went to the West Virginia Senate, being sent first to the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, then to the Judiciary.
On Saturday, the Senate passed the bill on the final day of the legislative session with a vote of 29 yeas, 5 nays, and zero abstentions.
HB 4588 has had its share of critics, include the pro-choice organization West Virginia Free, which called the bill "deceptive."
"HB 4588 is a deceptive bill that would take away a woman's ability to make an extremely personal medical decision in consultation with her physician," stated WV Free.
"This legislation would prohibit abortion after twenty weeks except when a woman has a medical emergency and is one of the most extreme bans on abortion that West Virginia has seen in years. It is also one of the most extreme abortion bills in the country."
Similar measures have passed in other states, but a few have been brought before courts regarding questions of constitutionality.
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has in the past expressed concern that HB 4588 may not pass constitutional muster, reported Huntington News.