On March 28, after the close of business, Gov. Tomblin vetoed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. He claimed the bill was unconstitutional - a determination that is usually left to the courts.
He used, as an excuse, the court's invalidation of Arizona's "Mother's Health and Safety Act" - a law very different from the act passed by our legislature. Furthermore, the governor neglects to mention that 10 other states have passed laws identical to the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protections Act. Of these, eight have gone into effect without being challenged. In two states, these laws are currently in the courts. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protections Act legislation has never been found unconstitutional.
A bill, practically identical to our act passed the U.S. House of Representatives on June 18, 2013, with all three members of the West Virginia delegation voting for it. Presumably, they did not consider the bill to be unconstitutional. Gov. Tomblin seems to have joined the small minority of Americans (12 percent) who want abortion to be legal for any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy (The Polling Company, Inc., February/March, 2013).
The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is designed to introduce a new standard that can co-exist with the abortion decisions of 1973, Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton. This bill reflects new medical research, which demonstrates that unborn babies feel pain beginning by at least 20 weeks in the womb. This research has revolutionized the practice of fetal medicine and fetal surgery. It establishes a compelling state interest in protecting life in the womb by outlawing abortion after 20 weeks, except to protect the life of the mother.
Supreme Court Justice Kennedy has written in his abortion opinions that states have a "constitutional role in defining their interests in the abortion debate," and they "may take measures to ensure the medical profession and its members are viewed as healer, sustained by a compassionate and rigorous ethic and cognizant of the dignity and value of human life, even life which cannot survive without the assistance of others." The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protections Act is designed to be constitutional using these standards.
The governor's veto has demonstrated a lack of compassion for these innocent children suffering horrific pain during late-term abortions.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Wanda Franz is President of West Virginians for Life.