In a victory for women’s health, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill last week that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, calling the measure unconstitutional and a undue restriction on the physician-patient relationship.

“I have vetoed HB 4588 because I am advised, by not only attorneys from the legislature, but through my own legal team that this bill is unconstitutional,” Tomblin wrote in a statement.

“The bill is also problematic because it unduly restricts the physician-patient relationship,” he added. “All patients, particularly expectant mothers, require the best, most unfettered medical judgment and advice from their physicians regarding treatment options. The medical community has made it clear to me that the criminal penalties this bill imposes will impede that advice, and those options, to the detriment of the health and safety of expectant mothers.”

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the West Virginia State Medical Association, and the chair of obstetrics and gynecology at West Virginia University lobbied and testified against the proposed ban.

If the bill had become law, anyone who performed an abortion after 20 weeks could be fined up to $5,000 and spend 1 to 5 years in jail. It had previously passed the West Virginia Senate 25-9 and the House 85-15.

Dozens of similar restrictive bills are moving through state legislatures across the United States.

Media Resources: Office of the Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s Press Releases 3/28/14; RH Reality Check 3/31/14; WSAZ 2/26/14; The Washington Post 3/10/14; Feminist Newswire 3/10/14

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