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Alabama legislators pass bill banning abortions after 20 weeks

The Alabama Senate and House of Representatives [official websites] on Thursday approved a bill [HB 18 text, PDF] that would ban abortions [JURIST news archive] after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill contains no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, but would permit an abortion if necessary to prevent the death of or serious risk of injury to the woman. The bill also requires physicians to report instances of abortions to the Department of Public Health [official website] and requires the department to issue an annual public report containing abortion-related statistics. Physicians who perform abortions in violation of the law would face criminal charges, injunctions, as well as actions for actual damages brought by the both the mother and father of the unborn child. The bill will now proceed to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley [official website] for signing.

Earlier this week, the Iowa House of Representatives [official website] approved a bill [HF-1736 text, PDF] that would effectively ban abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy [JURIST report], making it the most restrictive abortion law in the country. The Obama administration took a stand earlier this month against a controversial Indiana law that prevents health care providers with abortion services from receiving Medicaid funds, saying the law violates federal law [JURIST report]. Several other states have acted recently to tighten restrictions on abortions. Last month, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy websites] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging a South Dakota law requiring women to seek counseling at a pregnancy center and wait three days before obtaining an abortion. Earlier that week, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton [official website] vetoed a pair of bills [JURIST report] that restricted state funding for abortions and banned them altogether after 20 weeks. Also in May, Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] signed into law a bill that requires women seeking an abortion to first get a sonogram [JURIST report]. Multiple states have acted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain, including Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kansas and Idaho [JURIST reports].

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