File photo of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield. (CNS photo/Colleen Rowan, Catholic Spirit)

File photo of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield. (CNS photo/Colleen Rowan, Catholic Spirit)

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) — West Virginia has become the third state to outlaw second-trimester dismemberment abortion after the state Legislature voted March 10 to override Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.

“The West Virginia Legislature and the pro-life people in our state have been very strong in showing their support for the protection of human life,” Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston said in a statement.

“I commend all those who have worked so hard not only in the passing of this bill, but to override the governor’s veto as well,” he said.

Tomblin vetoed the bill March 9. The next day, the House of Delegates voted 85-15 to override the veto and the Senate voted 25-9. If the law is unchallenged, the ban will go into effect in May.

The bill outlaws a form of second-trimester abortion that “dismember(s) a living unborn child and extract(s) him or her one piece at a time from the uterus.”

“To allow this in our society is unbelievable, especially when medical technology gives us a clear picture of the living child — a child able to experience pain — inside the womb,” Bishop Bransfield said in a statement following the Legislature’s passage of the bill in February. “To allow it to go on is one of the most selfish dimensions of our society. I commend all those who have worked so hard in the passing of this bill.”

Wanda Franz, president of West Virginians for Life, also praised the state Legislature for overriding the governor’s veto.

“We are extremely grateful for the pro-life leadership and legislators who voted to override the governor’s veto, therefore voting to protect West Virginia’s unborn children from this barbaric dismemberment procedure,” Franz said.

This is the second time the state Legislature has overridden Tomblin’s veto of an abortion ban.

Last year, lawmakers overrode his veto of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortions 20 weeks after conception. That was the first time in almost 30 years the Legislature voted to override a governor’s veto.


Rowan is editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.