https://justthenews.com/nation/states/center-square/wv-house-passes-abortion-restrictions-adds-rape-incest-exception?utm_source=justthenews.com&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=external-news-aggregators

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation Wednesday afternoon that would ban most abortions in the state, but lawmakers added an amendment to provide exceptions for rape and incest.

House Bill 302, sponsored by Del. Dean Jeffries, R-Kanawha, passed the chamber 69-23 with overwhelming support from Republican lawmakers and opposition from Democrats. The bill is now being considered by the Senate.

The legislation would be similar to West Virginia’s ban before Roe V. Wade. The bill defines an abortion as the use of any instrument, medicine, drug or other substance or device with the intent to terminate a pregnancy, including abortifacient drugs. The original language included an exception for a case of a medical emergency and lawmakers narrowly voted to adopt an amendment that also adds an exception for rape and incest.

Del. John Hardy, R-Berkeley, introduced the amendment to add those exceptions while the bill was on the House floor. It states that, in the case of rape and incest, abortion would be legal up to the 14th week of gestation. The amendment passed 46-43 with more than one-fourth of Republicans voting with the Democratic minority to adopt it.

The rape an incest exception requires the person seeking the abortion first report the crime to a qualified law enforcement officer. Without a crime being reported, the exception would not apply. Lawmakers defeated a Democratic amendment that would have included the rape and incest exception without the need to report the crime.

Hardy and other lawmakers who supported the amendment argued it would protect people, particularly children, who are taken advantage of. Opponents cautioned the rule could lead to false rape allegations from women seeking abortion for other reasons and some argued that life should be protected, regardless of how the life was conceived. Rape and incest account for about 1-2% of abortions.

Lawmakers also adopted an amendment that would make the legislation effective immediately.

The legislation would establish criminal penalties for any person who performs or attempts to perform an illegal abortion. It would subject that person to a felony and a prison sentence between three and 10 years. If the mother dies during the procedure, the person would be guilty of murder. The bill also clarifies that the mother would not be subject to any criminal penalties.

Ending a pregnancy during an ectopic pregnancy or when the fetus is nonmedically viable would not be considered abortions under the proposed law. The bill also clarifies that it does not restrict contraceptives, which are defined as anything that prevents a pregnancy by interfering with the normal process of ovulation, fertilization and implantation.

The House sent the legislation to the Senate, which has not yet held a vote on it. The Senate has a 23-11 Republican majority.

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