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House Special Session On Abortion To Be Short And Administrative

Roger Hanshaw.jpg
Perry Bennett
/
WV Legislative Photography
House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said he will name a conference committee in a special session regarding abortion law clarification.

The West Virginia House of Delegates will be called back into special session Monday to continue the process of clarifying West Virginia’s abortion laws.  

The session is expected to be short and administrative and any resolution still seems a long way off.

Back in July, Gov. Jim Justice called the West Virginia Legislature into a special session to discuss personal income tax. At the last minute, he added abortion to the call. After days of discussion, the two chambers could not agree on either piece of legislation.

On Friday, Sept. 2, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said he is calling the House of Delegates back into session to name a five member conference committee intended to meet with a Senate conference committee — and attempt to forge an agreement.

Del. Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha, and pro-life, said the administrative session shows the House is ready to do business.

She said she doesn't believe in killing any child who is viable as long as the life of the mother is preserved and she doesn't agree with exceptions. But she said if the reality of exemptions for rape and incest is a building block that will curtail abortion in the state, then the legislature should pass it — and work on improving it.

Are we going to say we're not going to save any baby's lives, because we can't save every single one of them,” Graves said. “I just don't think that makes logical sense. I don't think that the end of the road has been reached."

Del. Ed Evans, D-McDowell, and pro-choice, said he is also ready to consider compromise. He calls it a "no-brainer" to not force a woman to carry a child from rape or incest.

“We saw the young lady there on the news not too long ago, 14 years old,” Evans said. “She's a child being forced to carry a child. Some things bother me. But I don't think Sen. [Craig] Blair wants anything to do with it.”

Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berekley, said his number one priority is to shut down West Virginia’s only abortion clinic and see that 98 percent of abortions taking place are stopped when it comes to exemptions for rape and incest. But he said he will not call the Senate back into session, and not form a conference committee, to forge any agreement until he knows what the results will be.

They can make a decision then be voted down in this body,” Blair said. “I am not interested in wasting a minute of time or the taxpayers' dollars. This is not going to make it so that there's going to be back alley, coat hanger, abortions taking place in this state.”

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals is in the early stages of considering Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s appeal on an injunction ruling regarding the state’s abortion laws. There is currently a 19th century law on the books that some feel is enforceable, but still needs legislative attention. Until the legislature acts, or the supreme court decides, abortion is still legal in West Virginia.

Over the weekend, Justice also called the legislature into a new special session for Monday afternoon to consider bills on economic development and roads funding.

Government Reporter, ryohe@wvpublic.org, 304-634-8123

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