- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Despite the governor’s disapproval, West Virginia lawmakers have cemented a ban on abortion 20 weeks after conception into law.

Senators voted 27-5 to override Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto and make the ban official Friday. The House of Delegates made the same vote Wednesday. The law takes effect in 90 days.

Tomblin, a Democrat with anti-abortion views, vetoed the bill Tuesday for the second straight year, again saying that it’s unconstitutional.

Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has pledged to defend the ban in court, should it face a challenge.

“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,” Morrisey said in a Tuesday news release.

Neither the House nor Senate debated the override. It’s the first veto override in the state Legislature since 1987.

In a statement after Tuesday’s veto, Tomblin said he urged lawmakers to consider a compromise this year, and that didn’t happen.

“Having received a substantially similar bill to the one vetoed last year on constitutional grounds, I must veto House Bill 2568,” Tomblin said.

House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, has said he thinks the bill is constitutional. Senate President Bill Cole, R-Mercer, received similar guidance.

“We did have advice from the attorney general that he felt it was constitutional and he could defend it,” Cole said Friday. “I frankly hope we don’t have to try that out in court, but we’ll see.”

The Republican Legislature easily passed the ban this year. Last year, Democratic leadership cleared a similar bill.

This year’s version provides some exemptions for women in medical emergencies but not for rape and incest.

Abortions would still be prohibited when women have psychological conditions that could lead them to hurt or kill themselves.

Even for abortions that would be exempted, the bill requires doctors to terminate pregnancies in a way that gives “the best opportunity for the fetus to survive,” unless the process would kill or irreparably harm the mother.

The bill is based on the assertion that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, which is disputed in medical research.

Opponents say it’s unconstitutional and intrusive into doctor-patient relationships.

Both bills resemble a law struck down in Arizona in 2013 that the U.S. Supreme Court later decided not to reconsider.

The new Republican majority in Congress tried to rally support for a 20-week ban in January, but the movement fell flat.

Ten states have some version of a 20-week ban, according to the abortion rights nonprofit Guttmacher Institute.

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