West Virginia GOP Loves Babies, Doesn't Care So Much About Women Or Constitution
West Virginia's legislature sure is focused on fixing the state's biggest problems. Like the problem of women having abortions after 20 weeks, which happened all of six times in 2011, and is a constitutionally protected right? Yeah, the state is totally going to fix that.
On Wednesday, the House of Delegates passed a bill, HB 2568, that would ban abortions at 20 weeks because, well, they just think that sounds like a good idea. At 20 weeks, according to the legislators, fetuses can feel pain. According to actual doctors, however, that is completely wrong. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists sent a letter to West Virginia's legislature, spelling it out for them, with science and medical facts and everything:
The statement "substantial medical evidence recognizes that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by not later than 20 weeks after fertilization" is not accurate.
But what do a bunch of obstetricians and gynecologists know about babies and lady parts and pregnancy anyway, huh? Certainly not as much as 18-year-old Del. Saira Blair, who somehow got herself elected to the House of Delegates between cheerleading practice and homecoming, and seems determined to be every bit the rightwing looneybird we predicted. She is legally a grown-up, you know, and she knows everything she needs to know about how this is a really important bill, OMG you guys. For the babies and children and stuff.
"This isn't about a woman's body," she said. "It's about the child she is carrying." Which is a terrific point, as long as you ignore that the bill Little Miss Look Ma, I'm a Delegate! supports actually IS about regulating what women can and cannot do with their bodies. But other than that, sure, it's got nothing to do with women at all.
It also has nothing to do with the Constitution. Like, the way the Supreme Court ruled all those years ago that women have a right to have abortions, so banning abortions is not actually constitutional? Republican Del. Lynne Arvon doesn't care about that. And yes, that's a direct quote.
Arvon isn't the only delegate who isn't so concerned about whether this bill is actually constitutional. Del. John Shott, also a Republican, said it's not clear whether it's constitutional or not, but the Supreme Court said the state has an interest in protecting the woman -- even though his young colleague Del. Blair said this has nothing to do with women, so who knows why he's even bringing that up? -- so it should be OK.
Of course, a similar law in Arizona was found to be unconstitutional in 2013, and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, so actually, it IS kind of clear, but whatever. Facts, pfffft. West Virginia Republicans have an agenda here, not to mention a lot of Democratic enablers because West Virginia Democrats are AWESOME, and they're not going to let small details like constitutionality or medical science get in the way.
Passage of the bill comes on the heels of a fascinating discussion last week among the delegates about whether the bill should include an exemption for rape victims because, come on, rape isn't that bad if you get a "beautiful" baby out of it, and besides, sometimes there's such a thing as "legal rape," so let's not get carried away with concern for rape victims.
The wise and experienced Del. Blair also had an indisputable response to those who expressed concern that forcing rape victims to carry their rapists babies was kind of messed up, yo.
"If you so strongly worry about those (rape) victims," she said, "which I hope all of you do, then I urge you to not punish the child, but to punish the one who impregnated her without her permission." Another excellent point from the teeny-boppin' legislator, because forcing women to have their rapists' babies will really teach those rapists a lesson.
West Virginia's Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed basically the same bill last year, by the way, which was passed when the Democrats controlled the legislature, because, again, West Virginia Democrats are AWESOME. Tomblin also hates abortion too, but even he considered the 20-week ban a bad idea, or at least an idea that was likely to get overturned by the courts. And yes, most of the Democratic delegates voted with Republicans in favor of this latest bill because -- say it with us, kids -- West Virginia Democrats are AWESOME.
But hey, it's not like the West Virginia legislature has anything better to do right now, so passing a bill that is obviously unconstitutional seems like a terrific use of time and taxpayer money. Maybe once West Virginia has saved all the unborn babies from their heartless raped mothers and the unclear Constitution, the state can move on to some of its lesser problems, like its severe budget gap and its over-regulated coal industry and clean water.
Because the last thing West Virginia's citizens need is assurance that their water is clean and safe to drink, especially when there are as many as half a dozen fetuses out there who might experience the conservative myth of "fetal pain" that does not actually exist.