Abortion amendment up for vote at midterms

CHARLESTON — Apart from the midterm race for U.S. Senate, both major political parties in West Virginia sense that an amendment impacting abortion costs will drive voters to the polls.

Amendment 1 would add language emphasizing the state Constitution does not protect a woman’s right to an abortion and does not require state funding of such procedures.

Medicaid covers abortion services for poor women in West Virginia — one of 17 states with such practice. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled in 1993 the state has an obligation to provide necessary medical care, including abortions, to low-income residents.

The pro-life state Republican executive committee unanimously voted this month to support Amendment 1. GOP chair Melody Potter told MetroNews “Talkline” tax dollars should not be used to fund abortions.

“Women will still have the right according to Roe v. Wade, which is a federal decision to get an elective abortion,” she said. “Physicians will still be able to make the determination in case of rape, incest or the life of the mother, whether a woman should get a taxpayer-funded abortion.”

West Virginia Democratic Party chair Belinda Biafore called the amendment “just too extreme,” claiming low-income women are in danger if they lack access to medical attention.

“If it’s your wife, your daughter, your sister, is this what you want for them?” she said. “I can’t imagine anyone in today’s world that would allow this to happen to a mother.”

Potter called Democrats advocates for “killing the life of the unborn child.”

The proposed amendment reads: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”

Potter called the Democrat Party “the axis of death and destruction” during her radio interview. “Conservatives and Republicans, I guarantee you, are going to go out and vote for this amendment.”

Biafore contends West Virginia Democrats are energized by the education work stoppage this year.

“I’ve seen women come alive, and they’re tired of being pushed around,” Biafore said. “The majority of our teachers are women, and they’re tired of being pushed around.”

A second constitutional amendment on the ballot would give the state Legislature oversight of the judicial system’s budget. A majority of voters is needed to pass constitutional amendments.

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