Over the weekend, the West Virginia legislature became the first state legislature controlled by Democrats to pass a bill that would prohibit most abortions during the final four months of pregnancy. The Senate voted 29-5 in favor of the measure, and the House of Delegates voted 85-15 to approve it. Democrats control the Senate by a 24-10 margin and the House by a 53-47 margin.
West Virginia's Democratic governor Earl Ray Tomblin has not indicated if he will sign the bill. Spokesmen for West Virginia U.S. senator Joe Manchin have not responded to multiple requests for comment from THE WEEKLY STANDARD on a federal version of the legislation, which passed the House of Representatives in 2013. Majority leader Harry Reid has not allowed a vote on the Senate's companion bill. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, two red-state senators up for reelection in 2014, have refused to say if they support the late-term abortion limit.
Polling indicates that the American people support laws prohibiting abortions later than 20 weeks after conception, the point in development at which human beings can feel pain and some can survive long-term if born. "I'm here because it's easy for me to imagine these babies at 20 to 24 weeks post-fertilization age because they are my patients in the [neo-natal intensive care unit]," Dr. Colleen Malloy of Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine testified before Congress in 2012. Malloy noted that in June 2009, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that a Swedish study found that "survival to one year of life of live born infants at 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 weeks postfertilization age was 10%, 53%, 67%, 82%, and 85%, respectively."