Every year, sure as clockwork, fundamentalists pressure the Legislature to hinder desperate teen-age girls who want to end pregnancies, thus forcing them to become unwed mothers, damaging their futures and worsening West Virginia's poverty.
Each session, this "pro-life" clamor takes different forms -- but the object remains the same: to force girls and women into unwanted motherhood.
Oddly, the same fundamentalists usually oppose birth control and sex education, which could save many teens from unplanned pregnancy, thus eliminating the need for termination.
We think pro-life advocates should leave women and girls alone -- stop trying to use government power to take away their choices about their private lives.
This year, anti-choice forces are backing a bill to throw doctors into prison for halting pregnancies after 20 weeks. Federal courts already have declared such laws unconstitutional. But the House of Delegates locked in a 48-48 tie over the unconstitutional proposal. Fundamentalists vow to bring it back for another vote.
By now -- a half-century past the landmark Roe v. Wade decision -- you'd think this culture war tumult would have faded. But it constantly resurfaces, like opposition to evolution or demands for government-mandated school prayer.
The battle has a hysterical quality. Republican state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey backs the anti-choice zealots. So does a West Virginia University physician, Dr. Byron Calhoun, who declared that he sees patients "at least weekly" who suffer complications after abortions.
But Charleston Area Medical Center reported that only two women with such complications showed up in all of 2012.
"The fact that Dr. Calhoun made knowingly false statements with the intent to mislead the public and lawmakers is disturbing," women's rights leader Margaret Chapman Pomponio told reporter Lydia Nuzum.The 2014 legislative session has passed its midpoint. We hope lawmakers focus on the state's real needs, and don't flounder into emotional fundamentalist distractions.