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Alabama House approves fetal heartbeat abortion ban

The Alabama House of Representatives [official website] passed a bill [text HB 490] Tuesday that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat detected. The measure passed by a vote of 73-29. A fetal heartbeat [Mayo Clinic backgrounder] can be detected as early as five weeks into pregnancy. Three other abortion bills were also passed by the House Tuesday. The first increases the waiting period before an abortion can be performed to 48 hours from the current 24 hours. The second, HB 493 [text, PDF], calls for a minimum 48-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed for woman who learns her fetus has a terminal condition that will result in death outside the womb. During that period the woman would be required to learn about prenatal hospice options, of which, according to Planned Parenthood Southeast [advocacy website], there are none in Alabama. The third bill would place new restrictions on minors seeking abortion permission from a judge. Under the new bill parents of the minor would be allowed to participate in the proceedings. All four bills will go to the Alabama State Senate [official website].

There has been much controversy surrounding reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] in the US. Last month the South Dakota House of Representatives [official website] passed a bill [JURIST report] that would prohibit individuals from having abortions based on the gender of the fetus. Also in February the Mississippi House of Representatives [official website] approved a measure [HB 1400] banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In January the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in Alaska Superior Court challenging a new regulation that seeks to prevent Medicaid from covering elective abortions.

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