House Health and Human Resources Chairman Don Perdue, D-Wayne, said Republicans used abortion "to make a political statement."
Their amendments would have sparked a lengthy and emotional debate, and leaders of both the House and Senate "didn't feel like they wanted to commit the time to that," Perdue said.
"The issue was going to become little more than political fodder," he said. "We've seen it throughout the country, and it's important enough that it shouldn't be that."
Perdue said he had favored a state-run pool, but hopes people will still have their needs met through the federally managed program.
Abortion is a politically sensitive issue for state Democrats, many of whom come from conservative districts. Another high-risk pool measure also died during May's special session.
Earlier this year, Gov. Joe Manchin had told the federal government the state wanted to partner with it to run the program. West Virginia would have received $27 million in federal funds for the pool.
State Insurance Commission spokeswoman Kimberly Osborne said a state-run pool would have offered people better benefits.
"GoHelp [the Governor's Office of Health Enhancement and Lifestyle Planning] and the Offices of the Insurance Commissioner would have had more control of the program and would have had a better ability to help consumers," she said Thursday in an e-mail to the Gazette.
"We thought it would be better to have a state-run program -- West Virginians helping West Virginians -- and providing jobs as Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield was going to provide the day-to-day work," she added. "Now, the federal government will come in to run this program."
All funding would have come from the federal government, she said.
West Virginia is now among 22 states that will have their pools managed by the federal government.
The programs will expire in 2014, when private insurance companies must cover people with pre-existing conditions.Reach Alison Knezevich at alis...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.