Election night was a win for the pro-life community especially those in West Virginia.
Even though Republicans lost the House, they increased their majority in the Senate, which will lead to more pro-life judges being confirmed and many pro-life candidates were elected to congressional seats or governorships. Some of the most significant pro-life wins, however, came in ballot measures in a couple of states, one of which was West Virginia.
West Virginia voted, with a 51% majority, to pass Amendment 1, which adds the following language to the state constitution: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”
This is significant for a few reasons. First, it sets up the possibility of completely outlawing abortion in West Virginia if Roe v. Wade happens to be overturned by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. Moreover, it effectively nullifies a 1993 State Supreme Court decision in Women’s Health Center of West Virginia. v. Panepinto. The 1993 decision compels the state to fund elective abortions for women on Medicaid.
Presently, the Hyde Amendment bars state funds covering elective abortions. However, many states, including West Virginia following the Panepinto case, offer state-funded abortions for those on Medicaid. In fact, the number of Medicaid-funded abortions has tripled in the state in the last five years. There were a staggering 1,560 Medicaid-funded abortions in West Virginia in 2017.
The only abortions that will continue to be funded by West Virginia taxpayers are those in exceptional cases. While abortions should never be funded by taxpayers who may morally oppose, Amendment 1 is a step in the right direction to one day hopefully outlawing all tax-funded abortions.
Even though this measure puts in place constitutional language which will immediately outlaw abortion in West Virginia upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade, until then, the first clause of Amendment 1, which recognizes the intrinsic value of human life inside the womb is largely symbolic.
Conversely, the clause limiting state funds for elective abortions will go into immediate effect and will surely save countless preborn lives.