More than a dozen people gathered at the state capitol today for a press conference to call for a ban on tax-payer funding for abortions. The grassroots effort was launched by West Virginians for Life. Supporters said they don't believe in paying for a procedure they think is morally reprehensible.
"Abortion is a practice of killing a life, not saving a life," said Tina Simpson, a resident from Wheeling.
During the press conference, the group presented a stack of petitions they had collected with about 7,000 signatures. WV House Minority Leader Tim Armstead said he hopes the petitions demonstrate that West Virginians want to opt out of paying for abortions in the new WV Health Care Exchange.
"I hope that all of our legislators will listen to the people of West Virginia because I think it's very clear where they stand on this issue," he said.
But advocates for women's health believe differently. They say abortion is a life saving procedure that should be federally funded.
"It's always frustrating to see organizations that are trying to take us backwards in time," said Margaret Chapman Pomponio, the Executive Director for WV FREE.
Pomponio says getting an abortion is a hard decision for a woman to make. Instead of continuing attacks, there should be more of a discussion on how to move forward.
"If they understand the circumstances that a woman is in, they are less likely to judge her decision making process," she said.
Legislation last year to restrict abortion funding in the new health care exchange didn't pass, but West Virginians for Life says they want to see a special legislative session or a rule change from the Insurance Commissioner to get their way.