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Arkansas House approves ban on abortions after 20 weeks

The Arkansas House of Representatives [official website] on Monday approved a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. With a 75-20 vote [Reuters report] the bill will now advance to the state Senate, which last week passed a ban on abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected [JURIST report]. The new House bill provides no exceptions for rape or incest but does allow exceptions if the mother's life is at risk or she faces severe and irreversible injury. Also Monday the House approved a bill that would prohibit insurance companies participating in the health insurance exchange from covering abortion except in cases of rape, incest or risk to the mother.

Numerous states have changed their abortion laws recently to restrict the availability of abortion, leading to several legal challenges. In December a state judge in Georgia enjoined a law [JURIST report] banning doctors from providing abortions for women more than 20 weeks into gestation. In November Montana voters passed a referendum [JURIST report] requiring facilities and doctors to inform parents of minors 16 to 48 hours before a planned abortion procedure. Also that month the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments [JURIST report] on a challenge to Arizona's law which, like Georgia's law, bans abortions after 20 weeks. Planned Parenthood also sued Texas [JURIST report] in October claiming that its law preventing state funding from going to any clinics affiliated with providing abortions violates another state law.

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