Idaho, Kansas lawmakers approve bans on late-term abortions

[JURIST] The Idaho Senate [official website] voted 24-10 on Wednesday to approve a bill [SB 1165, PDF] that would prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. The "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," similar to bills passed in Nebraska last year and approved in Oklahoma and Missouri [JURIST reports] last week, is based on evidence suggesting that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks [Reuters report]. Also on Wednesday, the Kansas Senate [official website] passed a similar bill [HB 2218, PDF], with a vote of 24-13 [Reuters report], that would prohibit most abortions after 21 weeks of gestation. The Kansas House [official website] approved the same bill [JURIST report] in February. The legislation in both Idaho and Kansas does permit abortions after the 20- or 21-week mark, respectively, only in cases where the mother's life is at risk or she faces serious injury. Doctors who perform abortions after that would be subject to criminal prosecution, but there would be no penalty for women undergoing the procedure. Idaho's "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" will now be forwarded to the House for approval and is expected to pass, while Kansas Governor Sam Brownback [official website] is expected sign the Kansas provision into lawn.

Some groups have criticized the recent passage of Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts throughout the country, asserting that they violate the Supreme Court ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey [text], which allows for abortions until the fetus can survive viably outside the womb, typically at 22 or 23 weeks. State legislatures have also been implementing other measures to restrict abortions. Earlier this week, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed into law a bill requiring women to seek counseling at a pregnancy center and wait three days [JURIST report] before obtaining an abortion. In December the Alaska Superior Court upheld a parental consent notification law, whereas in November, Colorado voters rejected an amendment [JURIST reports] that would have granted fetuses a "personhood" status, effectively banning abortion. In June, then-Florida governor Charlie Crist vetoed a bill [JURIST report] that would have required women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound or listen to a detailed description of the fetus before the procedure would be performed. Oklahoma lawmakers approved a bill [JURIST report] in May requiring women seeking an abortion to complete a questionnaire containing information on marital status, reason for seeking the abortion and whether the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. This followed laws passed the month before [JURIST report], prohibiting abortions performed because of the gender of the fetus, protecting medical employees who refuse to participate in procedures such as abortion based on religious beliefs, and regulating the use of RU-486, or mifepristone, a chemical used in abortion procedures.

 

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