This year, the West Virginia Legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment, which will be on the ballot at the November election. Please vote for Amendment 1 which says: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” Its purpose is to neutralize our state constitution on the issue of abortion and allow the state legislature to exercise its appropriate responsibility for control over the funding of abortion.
The state of West Virginia never changed the state law banning abortion following the federal Supreme Court’s abortion decisions in 1973. Women received abortions in West Virginia under the federal constitutional provision found in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Then in 1993, the Panepinto Decision “found” the requirement of government funding of abortion in the state Constitution.
In 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. McRae that the Court’s 1973 abortion decisions created a right to abortion, not a government entitlement, under the federal constitution. Since then, federal Medicaid dollars have been limited to the funding of abortions only in cases that threaten the life of the mother or in rape and incest.
Following passage of Amendment 1, women in WV will still be able to have abortions under the federal constitution. When the law adjudicated under Panepinto goes back into effect, our tax dollars would be limited to paying for abortion only in the cases of life of the mother, medical emergency, reported rape and incest and fetal anomaly. If Amendment 1 passes in November, it will eliminate the Panepinto funding requirement and prevent future judges from “finding” abortion rights in the West Virginia Constitution.