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Don Surber: The convenient abortion veto

By Don Surber, Editorial writer/columnist

Pardon my cynicism about Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of a measure to limit abortion to the first 20 weeks -- first half -- of a pregnancy.

Far from courageous, his veto was the final act of a Democratic melodrama in which 56 Democrats in the Legislature got to vote against abortion without any chance of a new restriction becoming law.

Most Americans oppose abortion but as with all sins, believe it is up to the woman to decide. It’s a right, but it’s wrong.

Our state is laid back on abortion.

NARAL Pro-Choice America (which began as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws) gives the state a B minus, which is higher than 37 other states.

After the 2012 debacle in which Republicans wound up with their most delegates in 82 years, Democrats are in a panic that for the first time since the repeal of Prohibition, they may lose control of one house of the Legislature; maybe both.

Thus, the Democratic leadership decided to throw a bone to the pro-life movement, which Tomblin and Sen. Joe Manchin say they belong to.

After years of ignoring Republican abortion proposals, Democrats allowed a bill sponsored by Del. David Perry, D-Fayette, to get a floor vote in this election year.

Republicans all supported the bill but they are in the minority. Among Democrats only, the vote was 19-5 and in the House, 37-15.

That means 56 Democrats can now tell their constituents they are pro-life.

But those opposed to abortion should note that this overwhelming legislative support by Democrats comes after 41 years of doing little about abortion following the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

Don’t buy it. To paraphrase John Kerry’s remarks to the crowd in Huntington on March 17, 2004, Democrats actually voted against abortion after they voted for it.

I maintain that the plan all along was that Gov. Tomblin would veto the bill and he did not disappoint them. The governor may be pro-life, but he is a Democrat first, last and always, and Democrats can no longer risk having pro-abortion voters stay home on Election Day.

After vetoing the measure, the governor sent out a press release that seemed moistened by the tears of a crocodile.

“I believe there is no greater gift of love than the gift of life. I have stated this time and again throughout my career and it is reflected in my legislative voting record,” Tomblin said in a press release.

“However, I have vetoed HB 4588 because I am advised, by not only attorneys from the Legislature, but through my own legal team that this bill is unconstitutional.”

But a legal challenge is the point of this proposal. Legislatures in 13 other states passed similar legislation in the hope that they can convince the Supreme Court to roll Roe v. Wade back a little more.

A court case is the last thing Democrats in West Virginia want because a challenge might raise the profile of Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, whom Democrats fear will run for governor in 2016.

And so a term-limited governor took one for the team.

There is an ambiguity about whether lawmakers can override the veto before Election Day. Until then, we seem to have an aborted abortion law.

Which serves state Democrats well this election year.


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