The following is an Op-Ed written by District 4 Committee member Julia Hamilton, published in the Charleston Gazette on 19 July 2018:
On Nov. 6, West Virginia voters will have a serious decision to make, so it’s important we know the facts. Let’s start with the actual wording — 17 words, to be exact: “Nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”
For the first time in our state’s history, West Virginia voters will decide whether or not to strip a constitutional right from its citizens. Regardless of where an individual may lie when it comes to the sensitive topic of abortion, all citizens should be concerned when a state Legislature takes action and precious time from their 60-day sessions to create a pathway to remove an established right from its people, rather than work to pass legislation that benefits them and the land on which they live.
Some back story on how this amendment came to be: Prior to the passing of what was then referred to as Senate Joint Resolution 12 (SJR 12), an amendment was proposed to lessen the severity of the legislation and create exceptions for cases of rape, incest or complications that threaten the life of the mother. That amendment was voted DOWN by Republicans — and even several Democrats — making this proposed legislation the most extreme attack on reproductive rights of West Virginians in our state’s history.
Point blank: Nothing that refuses to make exceptions for young girls who are raped and impregnated at the hand of a relative can be, in any way, pro-life. Nothing that condemns a woman to die on the table, rather than live, breathe and work another day is pro-life. Last time I checked, the individuals who push these acts of legislation are the same who bemoan the danger of big government in our lives, and who, time and time again, hack away at funding for the programs that keep living, breathing children and their families alive and well.
The real reason for this push to strip rights over such a controversial topic is clear — to turn out conservative voters in the general election, in hopes of holding on to as many seats as they can.
This may be a good time to also remind our legislators that choosing to pass an amendment that would take aim at a woman’s personal medical choices may not be the wisest strategic tactic when also engaging in stunts that impact the insurance options and job stability of a profession that is approximately 80 percent female.
After years of watching our Legislature waste time and energy on bills centered around reproductive rights, it is clear that the only real way to keep dangerous amendments like these from harming women is to strip amendments like these OFF the ballot and put women’s names ON it. It is time to send a message to our Legislature that we’ve had enough of our bodies being repeatedly placed on their legislative agenda.
I propose two very different words.
Julia Hamilton is a member of Morgantown Chapter of National Organization for Women and was recently elected to the Democratic Executive Committee in Monongalia County.