Columns/Opinion, Letters to the Editor

Let women, not male legislators, decide issue

Kelly Allen, Morgantown
In November, West Virginians will vote on Amendment 1, which, if passed, would add 17 words to our state Constitution: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”
Supporters of the amendment try to downplay its effect, arguing that this is just about ending the use of taxpayer funds for abortion. But it doesn’t take an attorney to see that it goes much further than that, specifying no right to abortion at all and no mention of exceptions.
During this year’s legislative session Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, proposed an amendment, to then SJR12, that would add exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the woman. It was voted down, 22-7.
I am frightened that a woman’s right to have an abortion to save her own life or in the case of an unviable pregnancy could be placed in the hands of our (85 percent male) legislators.
I am sickened that a ban could force a victim of rape or incest to carry her abuser’s baby to term. These outcomes are possible because our legislators refused to insert any exceptions into the amendment, meaning that, if passed, abortion in all circumstances could be banned by our Legislature. I’m certainly not inclined to trust their judgment since they failed to put any protections for rape, incest or a woman’s life into Amendment 1 when given the chance.
Fifty-nine percent of women who have an abortion have at least one child; they already know what it takes to be a mother.
Conversely, under 15 percent of our Legislature is made up of women, meaning that the vast majority of our elected officials will never face this choice themselves. The decision to end a pregnancy should be thoughtfully and privately made by a woman and her physician based on her specific circumstances —not by legislators in Charleston.