West Virginia's 20-week abortion ban takes effect

Tue May 26, 2015 3:49pm EDT
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(Reuters) - A law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy took effect in West Virginia on Tuesday, making the state one of 12 to prohibit abortions after that period.

The law cites fetal pain as a reason to prohibit abortion at that point in the pregnancy. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, vetoed the bill in March, citing constitutional concerns, but the state's Republican-controlled legislature overrode his veto. The bill passed in March.

Bans on abortion after 20 weeks have been passed in 11 other states since 2010, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights advocacy group. Idaho and Georgia have similar bans but they are not being enforced because they are undergoing legal challenges.

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure this month that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, and Democratic President Barack Obama opposes it.

Planned Parenthood said abortions after 20 weeks were rare and usually occurred because of maternal health risks. Eight abortions took place in West Virginia last year after 20 weeks, it said.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Daley in Pittsburgh; Editing by Ian Simpson and Peter Cooney)