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Anti-abortion rights group says signatures could force special session

Governor says he’d veto abortion bill again


capitol bureau chief

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin cautioned lawmakers Thursday from requesting a special legislative session to take up an abortion bill he already nixed once do to constitutional questions.

“I encourage legislators not to call themselves into a special session to revisit the same issue,” Tomblin said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“Should members of the Legislature take the same action again, I will again veto the bill.”

In late March, Tomblin vetoed a bill that would have outlawed most abortions performed after 20 weeks following fertilization. The bill received overwhelmingly support in the state House of Delegates and Senate, but Tomblin said his attorneys believe the law would be unconstitutional.

Courts have overturned similar bans in other states. Bans that prevent abortions after 24 weeks of fertilization or after “viability” of the fetus have typically passed constitutional muster.

However, several anti-abortion rights groups have led the charge for lawmakers to call for a special session to override the governor’s veto or to pass a similar bill.

Representatives from the Family Policy Council of West Virginia and West Virginians for Life announced Thursday they had almost obtained signatures from three-quarters of lawmakers in each chamber, the percentage needed to force the governor to call a special session.

Tomblin’s comments came a few hours after the announcement from the two organizations. Shortly thereafter, House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, echoed the governor’s statements.

“Though I voted for this bill and am proud of my pro-life record, I don’t believe West Virginia taxpayers will understand why lawmakers would be so eager to quickly return to Charleston at great expense to attempt to pass legislation destined for a long legal battle and a very uncertain future,” Miley said in the statement.

Each day of a special session can cost up to $30,000.

Tomblin pledged to work on a bill his team deems constitutional during the 2015 legislative session.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or Follow him at

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