The West Virginia Senate on Saturday passed a bill banning abortions based on potential disabilities. The initiative was proposed by Republican legislator Patricia Rucker and received an 81-17 vote after 90 minutes of debate.
The bill is titled the “Unborn Child with Down Syndrome Protection and Education Act” and would prohibit licensed medical professionals from performing an abortion if the child has a disability. However, it provides an exception which is when there is a medical emergency or a medically non-viable fetus. Also, medical providers who violate the policy would be subject to disciplinary action by licensing boards.
According to statements Republican Senator Kayla Kessinger offered to WSAZ-TV, the law is about science and morality. “It’s about when does life begin and whether it has value. Those are the only two questions you have to ask yourself. Do you believe life is present in the womb and do you believe it has value?” she said.
Reactions to the West Virginia Senate’s decision
The measure was criticized by other lawmakers such as Democrat Barbara Fleischauer, who called it an overreach by the state. “I think it should be up to women and families to make the decision about whether they’re going to bear a child or not. This bill is the government interfering in our decisions.”
However, it was also celebrated by pro-life organizations. Ser Provida indicated that this is good news for those who defend the birth of babies. “Great news! West Virginia House passed a pro-life bill to ban killing babies with Down syndrome in abortions,” the organization wrote on Twitter.
The West Virginia Senate proposal coincides with the decision of the Florida Senate, which passed a bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks gestation. The state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is expected to approve it soon.
The legislation on restricting abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy, according to an El American article, would go into effect July 1 and was pushed by Lakeland Senator Kelli Stargel, who asked Democrats not to refer to babies as “fetuses.”