- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A second-trimester abortion method would be banned in many instances under a bill that passed the West Virginia Senate on Wednesday.

With little discussion, senators voted 24-9 in favor of outlawing the commonly used abortion practice called dilation and evacuation. Democrats split about half and half on the bill. Sen. Tom Takubo, a physician, was the lone Republican to vote in opposition.

The bill next heads to the House of Delegates.

Courts have already blocked similar bans that Kansas and Oklahoma enacted in 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia pointed out in its opposition.

Proponents say the abortion method is inhumane, calling it “dismemberment.” Sen. Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, has likened the procedure to fetuses “being ripped apart limb by limb while they’re still alive.”

The bill would ban the abortion method unless the doctor already had caused the demise of the fetus. It would not ban the method in cases of medical emergency.

There would be no criminal or civil penalties, but physicians could potentially lose their medical licenses.

Democratic Sen. Ron Stollings, a physician, said he couldn’t support the measure, despite his anti-abortion voting record.

“With my specific knowledge, I can’t vote for this bill because it interferes strongly with the doctor-patient relationship and does away with the safest procedure in the second trimester,” Stollings said.

Last year, West Virginia moved to ban abortions 20 weeks after conception. Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the bill two years in a row, but lawmakers overrode last year’s veto to make the ban law.

Tomblin cited concerns that the 20-week ban would be ruled unconstitutional.

Tomblin said he would hold judgment on whether he would veto the second-trimester bill until he receives the final product.

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