By Sarah Plummer
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia senators expect to modify a House bill banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
The bill passed the House this week and is on Tuesday's agenda in the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee.
Committee chairman Ron Stollings, D-Boone, said he suspects the panel will want to address the bill's "draconian'' punishment for anyone who performs an abortion after 20 weeks. The bill now specifies that those convicted could face one to five years in jail and fines up to $5,000.
Stollings also said obstetricians have raised concerns that the bill does not include an exception for nonviable fetuses.
Judiciary Committee chairman Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, said West Virginia is one of nine states that don't have a time limitation on abortion. Most states have a 24-week cutoff.
"I was surprised to learn we are in such a small group of states that haven't passed some time limitations on when an abortion can take place,'' he said.
Delegates speaking against the bill Tuesday in the House raised issues regarding its constitutionally on the grounds that women have a right to an abortion. Both Stollings and Palumbo said the committees would consider that aspect while reviewing the bill.