West Virginia lawmakers advanced a resolution this week to make it clear that their state does not recognize abortion as a “right.”
The AP reports the proposed amendment to the state constitution passed the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. To amend the constitution, the measure must pass the Senate and House by two-thirds majorities and then a voter referendum.
The amendment states: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and State Senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”
State Sen. Robert Karnes, a pro-life Republican, told the West Virginia Metro News that they modeled the resolution after a Tennessee amendment that passed a voter referendum in 2014.
“There’s been no successful challenges whatsoever to the notion that it is the Legislature’s prerogative in the state of Tennessee to control abortion to whatever degree the Legislature wants to — under, obviously, the federal judicial umbrella that has made significant decisions related to abortion,” Karnes said. “So what this would do for West Virginia would be much the same.”
The Tennessee amendment, which withstood a legal challenge by Planned Parenthood, allows state leaders to regulate abortion and protect unborn babies in certain circumstances. It was made necessary by a radical pro-abortion decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2000 that wrongly declared a so-called “fundamental right to abortion” in the Tennessee Constitution, thereby making enforcement of common-sense protections impossible in Tennessee.
In West Virginia, Karnes said they hope the amendment will help reverse a 1993 state Supreme Court decision forcing taxpayers to pay for elective abortions.
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“This would allow the Legislature to essentially override that decision without any ambiguity,” Karnes said. “This will make it absolutely clear that it’s constitutional for those things to pass.”
West Virginia is one of 17 states that forces taxpayers to fund elective abortions through Medicaid.
Since 1977, state taxpayers have been forced to pay millions of dollars for tens of thousands unborn babies’ abortion deaths, according to West Virginians for Life. In 2017 alone, state taxpayers paid for 1,560 unborn babies to be aborted through Medicaid, according to state health data.
West Virginia lawmakers also are considering a bill to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions in the state.