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Timeline of the veto for House Bill 4588

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In the face of a potential political shift, many have asked when the veto was written for House Bill 4588, known as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which passed by an overwhelming majority of the West Virginia Legislature.

At an April 1 West Virginians for Life press conference following Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's March 28 veto of the legislation, many of the measure's supporters gathered to point out the quick succession of events that led to the bill's passage since the February 11 discharge motion left many professed pro-life legislators providing explanations for their "no" votes to keep the bill from moving forward:

 

  • Feb. 11: House of Delegates minority party attempts to discharge House Bill 2463, the original Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act; the bill dies in a 48-48 tie; all five Democratic sponsors vote against moving their own bill forward.
  • Feb. 12: A three-hour Democratic caucus takes over the House floor; many report it became heated, with threats of physical altercations.
  • Feb. 17: House leadership disposes House Bill 2463, with two Republican sponsors, and replaces it with a new measure that has no Republican sponsors. Seven more Democratic sponsors are added to the five already on the previous list. House Bill 2463 lives again as House Bill 4588.
  • Feb. 18: House Bill 4588 passes the House Health and Human Resources committee in 60 seconds with no discussion.
  • Feb. 22: House Bill 4588 passes the House Judiciary Committee in 30 seconds with no discussion
  • Feb. 25: The Pain Capable Act passes the full House of Delegates 79-17. 
  • March 4: House Bill 4588 is debated in Senate Health and Human Resources committee and then passes to Judiciary committee.
  • March 6: The Pain Capable bill passes Senate Judiciary committee.
  • March 8: House Bill 4588 passes the full Senate by a vote of 29-5 on the final night of the 60-day, regular legislative session.
  • March 8: The full House concurs with the changes the Senate made to the Pain Capable bill by a vote of 83-15. 
  • March 28: The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is sent to the clerk's office and Tomblin's desk, where it is vetoed the same night the West Virginians for Life group gathers for its annual Rose Society Dinner.

 

John Carey, West Virginians for Life legislative coordinator, said the organization expects a "groundswell of support leading up to the 2015 session."

"Furthermore, nothing the governor has done has changed the fact that there is a substantial body of scientific evidence that unborn babies from 20 weeks and older feel pain," Carey said.

National and statewide anti-abortion groups also plan to call for a federal version of the state bill Tomblin vetoed to be approved in the U.S. Senate, where it has more than 40 co-sponsors and has already been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. 

"We implore (U.S.) Sen. Joe Manchin to embrace his pro-life position and become the first Democratic senator to co-sponsor the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," said Mallory Quigley, communications director for Susan B. Anthony List. "Sen. Manchin has the opportunity to represent West Virginia and lead the nation where Gov. Tomblin has so shamefully failed."

Manchin said April 1 he has a pro-life record, but he would not introduce or sponsor the measure.

Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of WV FREE, said in a news release House Bill 4588 would have taken away a woman's ability to make an "extremely personal and often heartbreaking reproductive health care decision."

"We believe that these decisions should be made by a woman in consultation with her physician, not by legislators," Pomponio said. "The governor made the right choice in vetoing this bill, and we are heartened by his decision to place his trust in the women of West Virginia and the medical community."