Voters to decide on abortion protections

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) - West Virginia voters will soon get a final say in state abortion rights. This week the House and Senate passed a Senate Joint Resolution 12 to remove constitutional protection for abortions. But instead of going to the Governor's desk for a signature, it goes on West Virginia ballots.

In November voters will decide whether abortions should be a protected right in West Virginia. Right now that protection means Medicaid has to cover the cost of an abortion and that's Senator Patricia Rucker's biggest concern.

"To allow the West Virginia voters to decide whether or not we should be publicly funding abortions. And we have had a great increase of publicly funded abortions in the last few years and it is a concern to a lot of people," Republican Senator Rucker told our sister station, 13 News.

Senator Rucker and host of other co-sponsors say tax payers shouldn't be forced to pay for a procedure they don't agree with.

"This is something that the legislature has input on, but let's let the voters decide whether our state constitution guarantees it or not. And I think it's a valid question to put before them," Senator Rucker added.

But the ACLU says this puts the biggest burden on poor and working West Virginia women.

"We already have access problems for abortion-care in this state. There's only one clinic in the state and we're a very poor state. Woman already don't have great access to abortion care, if this passes it would be a dire situation," ACLU Executive Director Joseph Cohen told our sister station, 13 News. 

The ACLU believes the measure won't actually stop women from getting abortions, but will cut down on the number of women getting them from licensed doctors. 

"Women will continue to have them done, we need to create a society where people are engaging in safe medical care as decided between them and their doctors and the privacy of that relationship- the woman and the doctor," Cohen added.

The resolution does say lawmakers could pass a bill to protect abortion in the case of rape, incest or when the mother's life is at risk. but the ballot measure does not protect abortion for those reasons.

The vote for West Virginians is November 6.

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