An anti-abortion group will march through Wheeling this weekend to express displeasure with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's veto of a bill that would have prevented abortions more than 20 weeks into pregnancy.
West Virginians for Life will join with members of the Jesuit Students for Life organization for the annual Mothers' Walk for Life on Saturday morning. The group will walk from the Ohio Valley Christian Center on National Road in the Fulton area to the McDonough Center on Wheeling Jesuit's campus along Washington Avenue.
Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and the walk will begin at 10 a.m., according to Linda Stiles, treasurer of the Ohio County chapter of West Virginians for Life.
Participants in last year’s Mothers’ Walk for Life are seen on Wheeling Jesuit University’s campus.
"The purpose is to raise awareness of the abortion issue and raise money to throw support behind pro-life candidates in the upcoming election," Stiles said.
The group believes this year's fourth annual walk is particularly important in light of Tomblin's March 28 veto of House Bill 4588, which would have outlawed abortions more than 20 weeks into a pregnancy. The bill, passed with the approval of 83 of 100 members of the House of Delegates and 29 of 34 state senators, cites "substantial medical evidence" that a fetus is capable of feeling pain by 20 weeks after fertilization.
But in his veto message, Tomblin said the criminal penalties the bill would have imposed on physicians would have unduly restricted the physician-patient relationship and possibly kept quality doctors from practicing in the state.
He also said the measure likely would have been declared unconstitutional.
"Our position is, let the courts decide that. ... We didn't get that chance here," Stiles said.
Stiles said anyone seeking more information about the walk or who wants to register should call Helen Rentfrow at 304-547-4309.
As the groups prepare to march this weekend, pro-abortion rights group WV Focus: Reproductive Education and Equality released a report asserting that abortion services are provided safely and competently in West Virginia under current law and additional regulations aren't needed.
"None of us can presume to know all of the circumstances surrounding the deeply personal and medical decision to have an abortion. ... Women and their doctors should not be subjected to laws that interfere in this already difficult decision," the organization stated in a letter accompanying the report.