Friday, February 26, 2010

Nebraska's Abortion Pain Prevention Act

In Nebraska, State lawmakers are considering a new piece of legislation entitled the Abortion Pain Prevention Act. The bill, if enacted, would be the most stringent in the nation by banning most abortions after 20 weeks of the pregnancy. Why 20 weeks instead of the traditional 24 weeks? After 20 weeks, it's stated, that the fetus can feel pain. This is a major shift and had not been tried in the past. ABC News has more on the story here. Here's an excerpt from the article -
Nebraska legislators are proposing a bill on abortion that, if passed, would be the strictest in the nation and would ban most abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy. The first public hearing on the so-called Abortion Pain Prevention Act today drew a crowd of 100, and medical and legal experts from as far away as New York City, Alaska and Boston. The Nebraska legislature's judiciary committee adjourned without taking action and will now discuss the bill in executive session, where the bill could be amended, tabled or passed on to Nebraska's full one-house legislature.

During the nearly four-hour hearing, the eight-member committee heard testimony from 19 people -- including a handful of doctors, several lawyers and two Nebraska parents who opposed the bill and spoke about how abortion had been the right decision for their family.

The proposed bill would ban abortions after fetuses reach 20 weeks, rather than the current limit that falls around 24 weeks. The only exception on the 20-week limit is if the procedure would "avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function" or save the pregnant woman's life. This would be a marked change because current abortion bans in the U.S. are determined by fetal viability, or the point at which a fetus can live outside the womb -- which usually occurs around 24 weeks.

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