West Virginia Senate Committee Passes Bill Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 25, 2022   |   10:16AM   |   Charleston, West Virginia

A state Senate committee in West Virginia has passed a pro-life measure taking another step to stop abortions and protect unborn children from abortion. Lawmakers approved a bill that would ban abortions done on babies with Down syndrome — who are often target in abortions when prenatal tests indicate the baby may have the condition.

SB 468 passed through the Senate Finance Committee and is now headed to the full state Senate where it is expected to be approved.

Here’s more:

The bill is titled “The Unborn Child with Down Syndrome Protection and Education Act,” but it would apply to any and all disabilities except in the case of medical emergency and for severe fetal conditions that are “incompatible with life outside the womb.”

During that meeting, lawmakers shot down an amendment to the bill that would have created an exemption for disabilities that are “incompatible with life once the fetus is born.”

Republican Sen. Mike Azinger, a sponsor of the bill, said during Tuesday’s meeting he did not think there should be an exemption, even in possibly fatal cases, because doctors can be proven wrong.

“I see on Facebook, these parents holding a baby that was supposedly going to have all kinds of problems at birth, maybe even not live, and they’re perfectly fine,” he said. “Or, the prognosis prior to birth was not nearly as bad as what it turned out to be.”

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The health committee was split on the bill with a 6-6 vote, meaning the amendment failed.

But when presenting the bill to Finance Committee lawmakers Thursday, Senate Finance attorney Jeff Johnson said he had a new version that incorporated the fatal conditions exemption. He provided no explanation on why the change was made.

The Unborn Child with Down Syndrome and Education Act is the cornerstone piece of legislation for West Virginians for Life (WVFL) during the 60-day session in Charleston, which began on January 12 and ends March 12.

This legislation will require that a health care practitioner that administers, or causes to be administered, a test for any physical, emotional, or intellectual disability or diagnosis to an expectant or new parent shall, upon receiving a test result that confirms the presence of any disability, provide the expectant or new parent with educational information made available by the WV Department of Health and Human Resources.

Mary Anne Buchanan of West Virginians for Life says there are instances when a wrong pre-natal diagnosis is given, such as this story from WVFL Raleigh County Chapter Leader Hilda Shorter.

“The doctor called us in and said there was a good chance that my grandson Cooper would be born with Down syndrome and told my daughter she had 10 days to decide to have an abortion. He was born perfect and is a very productive 20-year-old man. She continued, “then four years later, we were gifted with our precious grandson Dalton, who has Down syndrome. He is the love of my life and to everyone he comes in contact with!”

WVFL President Wanda Franz stated, “The medical profession must be helped to realize that asking a woman to abort her disabled, unborn baby is introducing unnecessary risks to the physical and mental health of the woman that can be fully avoided. They must begin by accepting the presence of a new human life to be valued and loved, and they must learn to provide the education to help the family to meet the needs of the new family member.”