Reportedly, at least a half-dozen Democrats in the caucus said they would change their votes to "yes" on another discharge motion on the abortion bill if the bill wasn't taken up in committee. Obviously, only one additional "yes" vote would have been necessary to discharge the bill.
"At no time did any sponsor or organization approach me about putting that bill on the agenda," Perdue said Friday.
Noting the bill's introduction date of Jan. 9, Perdue suggested that at least some of the bill's six original sponsors were preoccupied with pressing issues regarding the water contamination emergency in the interim.
Not to disparage anyone's deeply held beliefs, but the timing for the push for anti-abortion legislation is curious.
It comes on the heels of national reports showing abortion rates at their lowest levels since abortion was legalized in 1973, and while the overall abortion rate has been steadily declining since 1980, the percentage of early, pill-induced abortions has increased.
It also comes about a month after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a federal court ruling striking down an identical 20-week abortion ban in Arizona as unconstitutional.
Thus, there's a high likelihood that even if the Legislature passes the abortion ban, it would be struck down in court.
Also, data from the Centers for Disease Control's most recent Abortion Surveillance report suggests that a bill making it a felony to perform abortions after 20 weeks' gestation would not have much effect overall.
Using 2010 data, the latest year available, the CDC found that just seven of the 1,998 abortions (0.4 percent) performed in West Virginia were late-term, 21 weeks or later; and 20 (1 percent) were between 18 and 20 weeks.
If the goal of West Virginians for Life and allied groups is to outlaw abortion, the bill they're championing appears to address only perhaps 1 percent of abortions in the state, and with the reality of legal action, most likely would not prevent a single abortion.
And, as Perdue noted, why did the WVFL et al. make no effort to lobby for the bill for 33 days from the time it was introduced, to the day the discharge motion was staged (on their Pro-Life Day at the Legislature)?
One has to wonder if the real intent is to create a wedge issue to polarize the House, and energize anti-abortion voters, in hopes of setting the stage for a Republican takeover of the House in November.
As Perdue said Friday, "It's too important an issue to simply use as a way to malign good men and good women in this House."
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.