Communications Department

Tomblin Veto is a ‘Total Abandonment’ of Unborn Children

Mar 29, 2014 | 2014 Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Late yesterday, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed HB 4588, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill passed both houses of the West Virginia legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“Governor Tomblin’s veto of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is a total abandonment of the most vulnerable unborn children in West Virginia,” said National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. “Governor Tomblin’s veto plays politics with the lives of unborn children. He can no longer be considered a ‘pro-life’ governor.”

The West Virginia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on the fact that substantial medical evidence indicates that unborn children experience pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, and prohibits abortion after that point, except when necessary to avert the death of the mother or when an immediate abortion is necessary to prevent serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.

The legislation is based on a National Right to Life model bill that has already been enacted in ten states. This is the first time it has been vetoed. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a federal version of the bill last year, and it has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

In a nationwide poll of 1,003 registered voters in March 2013 , The Polling Company found that 64% would support a law such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks — when an unborn baby can feel pain — unless the life of the mother is in danger. Only 30% opposed such legislation. Women voters split 63%-31% in support of such a law, and 63% of independent voters supported it.

“Governor Tomblin cannot claim to be pro-life and then veto a bill that seeks to protect unborn children who can feel pain from abortions,” added Karen Cross, National Right to Life political director. “Unborn children who recoil from painful stimuli and who must routinely be given anesthesia when operated on will still be painfully killed in West Virginia because of the callousness demonstrated by Governor Tomblin.”

Some of the extensive evidence that unborn children have the capacity to experience pain, at least by 20 weeks developmental age, is available on the NRLC website at and also here:

“A substantial majority support protecting pain-capable unborn children,” Tobias added. “Governor Tomblin has now shown he’s clearly in the pro-abortion minority that wants to continue the current policy of abortion on demand.”

Founded in 1968, National Right to Life, the federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization. Recognized as the flagship of the pro-life movement, NRLC works through legislation and education to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.