Thanks to a bit of public pressure, Democratic West Virginia legislators have voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, the point at which unborn babies can feel pain.
Here’s how the interesting vote played out:
The legislation, which passed 79 to 17 with the support of 33 Democrats, was originally defeated by Democrats by a vote of 48 to 48 on February 11 when Minority Leader Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) made the motion to Discharge the Committee and bring the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to the floor. Democrats then introduced their own bill following uproar from pro-life activists across the state and a contentious Democratic caucus meeting which, according to local media reports included “yelling and screaming, and even delegates concerned that fisticuffs might break out.
Some of the shouting likely came from Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha, who said the Legislature does not have the right to tell her or any other woman what rights she has with her body:
"All of you should be ashamed of yourselves for bringing this bill to the floor of the House," she said.
Other delegates called the bill unconstitutional and politically motivated.
But, despite the emotional debate, the Democratic representatives voted in favor of the pro-life legislation, which makes it a felony to perform an abortion after 20 weeks. The sentence for a doctor caught performing the procedure is one to five years in prison.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser is grateful to the Democratic representatives who changed their votes:
“We are especially thankful to the five Democratic women representatives who, bucking pressure from the abortion lobby, voted for this compassionate, pro-woman legislation.”
If the other side is going to cave in on anything, abortion has to be the best issue in which to do so. A bit of healthy pro-life pressure and maybe even a few sincerely changed hearts in the state house allowed West Virginia to take one step closer to protecting unborn babies from these painful and deadly procedures.