Unacceptable: Abortion amendment will cost lives

Yesterday, while the eyes of West Virginia voters were focused on striking teachers and an increasingly baffling series of events on that front, the House of Delegates quietly passed the committee substitute for Senate Joint Resolution 12: “No Constitutional right to abortion — Amendment.”

Voting 73-25, members of the House sent to Gov. Jim Justice a measure which, should he OK it, would become Amendment No. 1, on your November general election ballots. It was spawned by SJR12 — sponsored by a whopping 16 state senators, including state Sens. Mike Azinger, R-Wood and Donna Boley, R-Pleasants — which includes this little gem:

“The purpose of this resolution is to acknowledge that 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.”

More than one political theorist has suggested a motive for such an amendment is to draw single-issue voters to the polls during the general election, as Republicans are increasingly beginning to fear they may be on shaky ground by then. In fact, when Del. Joe Canestraro, D-Marshall, introduced an amendment to the resolution over the weekend to place it on a special ballot over the summer instead, it was defeated, with the vote running along party lines.

Should lawmakers be hoping to one day eliminate funding even for abortion procedures necessary to save the life of women who do not have access to resources that would help them pay for it themselves — who are, for example, dependent upon Medicaid for their healthcare — the measure must be soundly defeated. Such a change would be patently unacceptable.

In discussing the proposed amendment, Boley said “It gives authority back to the Legislature.”

If Justice allows this measure to be placed on the ballot, voters will have to remind Boley, Azinger and company they do not, in fact, have authority over the life or death of women — low income, or otherwise, whose pregnancies could kill them.