- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A second-trimester abortion method would be banned in many instances under a West Virginia bill that is headed to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

On Monday, the Republican-led House of Delegates voted 86-13 in favor of banning the commonly used second-trimester procedure called the dilation and evacuation method. Courts have blocked similar bans that Kansas and Oklahoma enacted in 2015.

The GOP-led West Virginia Senate passed the measure earlier this month. Tomblin, a Democrat who has touted anti-abortion credentials, vetoed a different abortion ban two years in a row over fears that it would be struck down as unconstitutional.

Lawmakers overrode his veto last year, which only required a simple majority vote. They have enough support to do the same if he vetoes this year’s bill.

This year’s proposal would ban the dilation and evacuation method unless the doctor already had caused demise of the fetus. It would not ban the method in cases of medical emergency.

Proponents of the bill referred to the procedure as “dismemberment,” and gave graphic descriptions of extracting a live fetus in pieces.

“This is absolutely barbaric in a society in which we treasure life,” said Del. Lynne Arvon, R-Raleigh.

Opponents said the bill would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship by banning the safest, most common second-trimester abortion procedure. They also questioned whether the bill would be constitutional.

Doctor groups are among those opposing the legislation.

“If you make it sound hideous enough, if you make it sound as gross as possible, then somehow, everyone will be bound into submission to vote for something that jeopardizes the medical practices of many of our OB/GYNs,” said Del. Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha.

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

Last year, lawmakers overrode Tomblin’s veto of a ban on abortions 20 weeks after conception.

Tomblin said he will reserve judgment on this year’s bill until he sees the final version.


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