By Rachel Dove
CHARLESTON – Although Mingo County Delegates Harry Keith White and Justin Marcum were extremely disappointed that Republican delegates recently chose to use an issue as critical as abortion to stage a superficial political stunt, they are pleased to note that legislation restricting abortions is now moving in the House of Delegates.
“Being pro-life is not a Republican or Democrat issue,” noted House Majority Leader White. “Countless Democrats, Delegate Marcum and myself included, are staunchly pro-life.”
Marcum said he and White and many other pro-life delegates were very pleased to see supporters of the pro-life movement gather at the statehouse last week for their designated lobby day.
“Unfortunately, some Republican members chose to take the opportunity to attempt a procedural stunt on the House floor that day which, regardless of the vote outcome, is purely a political maneuver,” Marcum said.
House Bill 2364 – The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act - was introduced Jan. 9 and referred to the House Health and Human Resources Committee, then to the House Judiciary Committee.
“With more than three weeks left in this legislative session for bills to move through the committee process, not one delegate approached the House Health chairman to ask that House Bill 2364 be placed on his agenda,” Marcum said. “Yet on Pro-life Day at the Capitol, the members of Republican leadership for some reason felt compelled to take the drastic measure of attempting to usurp the committee process by calling for the entire House to vote to ‘discharge’ the bill from the Health Committee.”
That procedural motion is a direct attempt to disrupt the committee process, White said.
“To force a vote on legislation before any committee has had a chance to study it and consider details of its provisions is just political theater, rather than a sincere attempt at meaningful lawmaking,” he said. “Every bill that is introduced in the House of Delegates is considered important legislation and deserves to have one or more committees consider its contents.”
The House leadership voted against the discharge motion.
Meanwhile, the House Health Committee took up and adopted House Bill 4588 – protecting unborn children by prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks. It is also referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
“As one of the bill’s sponsors, I can attest to the fact that this legislation is part of a sincere effort to restrict abortions,” Marcum, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, said.
White said the House leadership expects HB4588 to be voted on by the full House of Delegates in the next week.
“We continue to consider the issue of abortion to be a very serious one that merits meaningful, effective legislation,” White said.