Politics & Government

Fetal-pain abortion bans up for consideration in several states

Kansas joined an exclusive club when it became only the second state to ban late-term abortions because of fetal pain.

But not for long. The Idaho governor signed a similar bill Thursday, and more like it are advancing in Oklahoma and a dozen other states.

The so-called fetal pain bill, which bans abortions in Kansas after 21 weeks of pregnancy, highlights an intensified campaign by abortion foes across the country. Energized by conservative victories in last fall’s elections, they are pushing for new restrictions.

“I think we’re seeing an unprecedented level of aggressive movement of anti-abortion bills,” said Rachel Sussman, senior policy analyst for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Across the country, abortion rights supporters are tracking 374 bills in 31 states. Last year, only 174 bills were in play.

The bills range from limiting insurance coverage for abortion to requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before undergoing the procedure. There have been bills to define “personhood” to say that life begins at conception. Among the proposals on the table this year:

South Dakota passed a law requiring a three-day waiting period for women seeking an abortion. It’s said to be the longest waiting period in the country. Litigation has been threatened. Private money has been promised to help cover the state’s defense of the law.

The Florida Legislature is debating a measure that would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound and have the fetal images described to them.

Arguably one of the most controversial proposals is an Ohio bill banning abortion when a heartbeat can be detected, which would make it the most restrictive abortion law in the country, supporters say. Some have said a heartbeat can be detected within five to six weeks of conception.

The bill was recently voted out of a House committee, but its future is unclear because of questions about its legality.

To read the complete article, visit www.kansascity.com.