W. Va. Gov. Tomblin Vetoes 20-Week Abortion Ban

March 31, 2014 — West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) on Friday vetoed a bill (HB 4588) that would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, saying that the bill likely is unconstitutional and would restrict pregnant women's health care, the Charleston Gazette reports (White, Charleston Gazette, 3/28).

The state House approved the bill earlier this month after the state Senate amended it to allow exceptions if a pregnancy is not viable. The changes also reduced the penalty for physicians who violate the ban from a felony to a misdemeanor (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/11).

Tomblin said he vetoed the bill because his legislative attorneys and his legal team advised that it "is unconstitutional as shown by actions of the Supreme Court of the United States" (Charleston Gazette, 3/28). The high court previously rejected a request to consider a similar law in Arizona that a lower court had struck down, according to AP/Sacramento Bee.

Tomblin also said he vetoed the bill because the medical community believes that the measure's legal penalties would impose on the patient-doctor relationship (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/28).

"All patients, particularly expectant mothers, require the best, most unfettered medical judgment and advice from their physicians regarding treatment options," Tomblin said, adding, "The medical community has made it clear to me [that] the legal penalties this bill imposes will impede that advice, and those options, to the detriment of the health and safety of expectant mothers" (Charleston Gazette, 3/28).