West Virginia’s so-called “small government conservatives” are at it again, this time trying to make government so small they can fit it between a woman and her doctor.
Specifically, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that the Republicans have introduced a bill that aims to amend the state constitution “to clarify that nothing in the Constitution of West Virginia secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”
The bill’s lead sponsor says the resolution aims to undo a 1993 state Supreme Court decision regarding a state law that banned the use of Medicaid funds for abortions. The court overturned the law because it found that the law violated poor women’s constitutional rights.
And regardless of your personal beliefs regarding abortion, any such law today still would violate a woman’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy regarding her health decisions, particularly in consultation with her doctor.
It would also be also a violation of the doctor’s Fourth Amendment protections to be able to privately consult with their patients. Doctor-patient confidentiality can’t go out the window when a woman becomes pregnant.
On top of that, because the law would essentially only apply to women who are receiving Medicaid, it would disproportionately burden their Fourth Amendment protections under the U.S. Constitution — which then also becomes a burden or violation of that woman’s 14th Amendment rights to equal protection.
The 14th Amendment clearly states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States ... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Since this law would only apply to women on Medicaid, it would be as unconstitutional as the “Black Codes” of the post-Civil War South.
This legislation would also be in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, as it would establish a statewide belief that life begins at conception. (But we know that sperm are alive before they encounter an egg, otherwise there wouldn’t be products intended to kill sperm, i.e. spermicidal products.)
So where are these attacks on the individual liberties of women and doctors coming from?
If you’ve been tracking legislation in West Virginia’s Legislature over the last few sessions, you may have noticed by now that much of the legislation proposed to gut services and give tax breaks to the state’s wealthiest aren’t drafted by state lawmakers.
Instead, Republicans in the Legislature frequently push “model legislation” drafted in a general form by the American Legislative Exchange Council to be submitted by one of their many stooges members in state legislatures across the country.
The ALEC claims it does not address social issues. But as PRWatch pointed out a few years ago, the ALEC and the anti-abortion movement have many of the same funding sources and have the same goals — electing Republicans across this country who will carry out their agendas.
It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the lead sponsor of this amendment to the Constitution is West Virginia Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson. Rucker just happens to be a state chair for the ALEC.
It also doesn’t seem like a coincidence that this legislation is being pushed in the year 2018, a time when conservative Neil Gorsuch is now firmly on the Supreme Court.
This kind of legislation begs for a Constitutional challenge, and the so-called conservatives are hoping that the challenge would be run up the courts. Eventually it would reach the Supreme Court, where so-called conservatives pray that it would open the possibility for overturning Roe v. Wade.
This legislation isn’t “small-government conservative.” It would establish a religious-based rule of law that would exclusively apply to poor women and their doctors.
It’s anti-women, anti-poor, anti-doctor, unconstitutional and undemocratic.