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WV legislation raises concerns for women’s health care in the state

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Senate Joint Resolution 12 was approved by the West Virginia Senate with a 25-9 vote in favor and was sent to the Judiciary on Monday.

The resolution states, “nothing in [the West Virginia] Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” The resolution has been met with much criticism, as many are concerned about the status of women’s health care.

“I am greatly worried by the attempt to remove protections afforded by our state constitution,” said Claire Snyder, the program coordinator of Marshall University’s Women’s Center. “We should be focusing on improving women’s healthcare, not limiting it.”

Likewise, Diane W. Mufson, a retired psychologist, said she believes this resolution could bring about negative ramifications.

“It will affect all the women in this state, as the goal of the legislation is to make it more difficult to obtain an abortion. I wish that those who are very concerned with the prenatal life of babies had the same level of concern and compassion once they were born,” Mufson said.

In an opinion piece for the Herald-Dispatch, Mufson also explained the circumstances surrounding many abortion cases.

“If you believe that all women are moved to love and care for their newborn infants, then you don’t understand what poverty, exhaustion, hopelessness and drug addiction means in this situation,” Mufson said.

According to Herald Mail Media, Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles S. Trump IV said, “[The ruling] is really about public funding,” before also saying the abortion issue will ultimately be put in the hands of the voters.

Lead Sponsor and Senator Patricia Rucker was contacted but did not comment on the resolution.

House Bill 4012, another proposed legislation regarding women’s healthcare, has also caused great concern in the women’s healthcare community. The bill’s summary states its purpose is “amending the definition of medical services, so as to exclude abortion.” The bill goes on to state, “medical services does not include abortion except in the case of a medical emergency.”

“Women deserve better access to quality healthcare- their medical decisions shouldn’t depend on how rich they are,” Snyder said. HB 4012 targets low-income women and puts their health and safety at risk.”

Due to the ruling of Women’s Health Center of West Virginia vs Panepinto in 1993, W.V. is one of 17 states that currently pays for abortions for low-income women.

“We know that this legislation will significantly affect poor women who rely upon Medicaid for all their medical services,” Mufson said. “The women will have few, if any options, regardless of their reasons, if they were to seek an abortion.”

The bill was sent to House Judiciary on Jan. 26.

Ginny Blake can be contacted at [email protected]

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