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West Virginia Voters to Decide: Should Taxpayers Keep Funding Abortions?

03-06-2018
West Virginia Capitol
West Virginia Capitol

The West Virginia House voted Monday to let state voters decide if they want to keep using Medicaid funding for abortions.

Under the proposed state constitutional amendment, abortions would remain legal because the state can't change federal abortion law, but the state would no longer be obligated to pay for them.

The resolution reads: "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."

The resolution will now go before voters in November.

The current law that was implemented in 1993 allows for Medicaid funding for an abortion as long as a doctor determines that a Medicaid abortion is "medically necessary."

Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott, who supports the new amendment, says that provision has been "too loosely interpreted."

"Since the ruling, there have been 35,000 abortions," he said.

State data shows West Virginia's Medicaid program paid $326,103 for 1,560 abortions for poor women just last year. That's about 340 more abortions than the previous year.

"There are young lives that were terminated because somebody got upset they got pregnant," Shott explained.

Opponents like the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia say the proposal is a first step toward banning abortions altogether.

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