House Overrides Veto on Abortion Bill
For the first time in more than twenty years, members of the legislature are on their way to overturning a gubernatorial veto.
According to Speaker Tim Armstead's office, the last time such a vote was taken was in 1987 under the late Governor Arch Moore.
The two thirds vote of both chambers overturned his decision on a portion of the 1988 budget, but lawmakers this year have a slightly different situation on their hands as they consider a vote to overturn the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
Update March 4, 2015, 4:55 p.m.:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael said the Senate did not receive the House of Delegate's message of a vote to override the governor's veto before their morning floor session preventing them from taking up the bill Wednesday.
Carmichael said the chamber, however, is under no time crunch to reconsider House Bill 2568. Members of the Senate have until the final day of the session, March 14, to consider a veto override.
Update March 4, 2015, 9:55 a.m.:
The House of Delegates voted 77-16 Wednesday to override Governor Tomblin's veto of the pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
Delegates Linda Longstreth, Tim Miley, Linda Phillips and Patsy Trecost--who had all originally voted in support of the bill--were among those who disapproved of the veto override.
In a news release Wednesday, House Speaker Tim Armstead called the override a "historic step" and noted that it was the first time the chamber has passed a veto override since 1987.
“I am confident that the Senate will follow suit and that this will be law of West Virginia. I believe that the Pain Capable Unborn Protection Act is constitutional and will withstand any constitutional challenge,” said Armstead.
The action will now be sent to the Senate.
From Our Original Post
For the second time in as many years, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed a bill that would ban late-term abortions. Republican leaders in the House say they're planning to override the measure.
In a news release Tuesday, Tomblin announced his veto of The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill would ban the practice 22 weeks after the mother’s last menstrual cycle, or 20 weeks post fertilization, the point at which supporters of the bill say the fetus can feel pain.
In Tomblin's veto message to House Speaker Tim Armstead, he cites decisions from the United States Supreme Court in stating that the bill is unconstitutional.
Tomblin also issued a statement to the media.
“As reflected in my voting record during my time in the Legislature, I believe there is no greater gift of love than the gift of life. As governor, I must take into consideration a number of factors when reviewing legislation, including its constitutionality,” said Tomblin in Tuesday's statement.
“At the start of the regular session, I urged members of the Legislature to consider a compromise that would help us establish legislation that would pass constitutional muster. Having received a substantially similar bill to the one vetoed last year on constitutional grounds, I must veto House Bill 2568."
Democratic members of the Senate fought the bill on the floor last week, calling it unconstitutional and against the precedent set by the United State's Supreme Court in 1973 with Roe v. Wade.
Tomblin vetoed a similar bill following the conclusion of last year’s session in a Democrat-led legislature. Tomblin refused to call a special session that would have allowed lawmakers to reconsider the bill.
According to the Associated Press, both bills resemble a law struck down in Arizona in 2013 that the U.S. Supreme Court later decided not to reconsider.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey expressed his disappointment in Tomblin's veto and urged legislators to override it. He also promised to defend the bill if challenged in court.
“It is long-past time that limits are placed on abortions in West Virginia. Currently West Virginia law does not limit how late an abortion can occur," said Morrisey in a statement issued Tuesday.
"While no one can predict with certainty how a court will rule, I believe that there are strong, good-faith arguments that this legislation is constitutional and should be upheld by the courts. If the Legislature overrides this veto and the law is challenged, I will defend it in court."
Whitney Burdette of The Charleston Daily Mail reports that House leaders are already planning to override Tomblin's veto of the bill.
Republicans now control the legislature. Only a simple majority is needed to override the governor’s veto.