Voters will decide in November referendum
Earlier today, the West Virginia House, following in the footsteps of the Senate, passed SJR 12 by a decisive vote of 73-26. As a result Amendment 1, which would return the state Constitution to a neutral position on abortion and abortion funding, will be before the voters in a November referendum.
If passed by voters, Amendment 1 would take control of abortion funding away from the court system and return it to the people’s elected representatives where it belongs.
In 1993 in its Panepinto decision, the state Supreme Court required state taxpayers to pay for women’s elective abortions. Over the years DHHR reports that West Virginia taxpayers have spent nearly $10,000,000 on approximately 35,000 abortions. Most of those were elective abortions for any reason.
Amendment 1 simply eliminates the influence of the Panepinto decision so the restriction on funding of abortion is reinstated in the form it was in 1993, unless the legislature passes an updated law.
Under Amendment 1, a woman’s right to abortion will not be affected in any way. “If this amendment is ratified by the voters in November, women will still have access to abortion under the Federal Constitution. The Supreme Court in 1973 ruled that the Federal Constitution contains the right to abortion. States cannot over-ride that ruling with their own Constitutional Amendments,” said Dr. Wanda Franz, West Virginians for Life (WVFL) president.
“West Virginia is one of only 17 states that funds abortion on demand. If Amendment 1 is ratified by the voters in November, then West Virginia will join 33 other states and the federal government in limiting taxpayer funding of abortion,” said WVFL Legislative Liaison Karen Cross. “We know that limiting abortion funding saves lives. In fact, 2 million people are alive today because of the federal Hyde Amendment.”
Franz added, “If Panepinto is reversed, the law on which it was based would be reinstated. The 1993 law allowed for taxpayer funding of abortion to save the life of the mother, in cases of rape and incest, for fetal anomaly and medical emergency,”
Amendment 1 does not touch on the right to abortion as secured by the U.S. Supreme Court in its Roe v. Wade decision. But in Harris vs. McRae, the U.S. Supreme Court also ruled that states are not required to fund the exercise of that right.
Passage of Amendment 1 will take West Virginia taxpayers out of the business of paying for abortion on demand.