UPDATE: West Virginia Senate advances proposed abortion amendment

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - UPDATE: 2/9/2018, 3:11 P.M.

West Virginia's Senate has advanced a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would authorize lawmakers to restrict abortion rights.

Approved 25-9 on Friday, it would require two-thirds passage by the House also and a voter referendum to take effect.

The resolution says: "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."

Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Trump says ending that public abortion funding is the real aim.

Sen. Ron Stallings says the state's obstetricians and gynecologists oppose the interference in women and their doctors making the best health care decisions for them.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 upheld women's constitutional rights to abortion.

West Virginia's Supreme Court in 1993 upheld the right to Medicaid funding for abortions.


UPDATE: 2/6/2018, 11:15 A.M.

A West Virginia legislative committee has advanced a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would authorize lawmakers to restrict abortion rights.

The resolution, approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by voice vote, would require two-thirds passage by both the Senate and House and a voter referendum to take effect.

It was approved Monday, when abortion opponents were rallying at the Capitol.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 upheld women's constitutional rights to abortion.

The resolution says: "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion."

In January, a federal appeals court ruled that Tennessee won't have to recount votes on a similar constitutional amendment passed in 2014.

A West Virginia House committee held a hearing Monday on barring Medicaid-funded abortions.


ORIGINAL STORY: 2/5/2018, 11:52 A.M.

Some critics of an abortion bill in West Virginia are urging lawmakers to instead focus on eliminating the state's poverty and prescription-drug problems.

A public hearing on the bill was held Monday in the House of Delegates chambers at the state Capitol in Charleston. The bill would eliminate Medicaid funding for medically necessary abortions unless the procedure is needed to save a mother's life.

Most of the dozens of speakers opposed the bill. Several critics said the bill discriminates against poor women.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that opposes abortion restrictions, West Virginia is among 17 states whose policies direct Medicaid payments for all or most medically necessary abortions.

State data shows 1,560 Medicaid-funded abortions were done in West Virginia last year, more than triple the number from 2013.