West Virginia legislators struggle for progress amidst special session over abortion law
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) - This week West Virginia’s capital saw a stalemate with the impending abortion legislation. In a special session initially called by Governor Jim Justice to provide tax relief, the Senate wrapped up late Friday night without mention of tax relief. Instead the senate passed two amendments to the abortion bill:
The first amendment would lessen the penalties for doctors administering illegal abortions, which senators suggested after sharing concerns that harsh, criminal punishment could discourage medical professionals from living in West Virginia.
The second focused on mandated reports of underage victims of rape or incest, in order to qualify as an exception. As of Friday, the amendment would allow minors to report to any mandated reporter, rather than just local law enforcement. Sen. Stephen Baldwin (D-Greenbrier) introduced the amendment as the bill previously required minors to report their abuse to law enforcement in order to be eligible for an abortion, which is uncommon in many child abuse cases.
However, the House ultimately rejected the amendments, bringing legislators back to square one. The next steps will likely involve conference committees with 5 members from both the House and Senate to iron out their differences, according to Baldwin. He says to see any progress, an agreement will need to be reached before voting on an amended version of the bill. With Democrats and Republicans remaining as divided as ever, things are being left open-ended until the Senate President or Speaker of the House calls the chamber back into session.
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