April 14, 2010
Nebraska Adds Abortion Restrictions
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed a law yesterday banning most abortions 20 weeks after conception or later. The law is the first to restrict abortions on the basis of fetal pain, according to The New York Times.
The question of fetal pain, experts said, is one of intense, unresolved debate among researchers and among advocates on both sides of the abortion question.
Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation at National Right to Life, said that scientific evidence related to the capacity for pain had not been heard by the Supreme Court, and that it opened a new legal question.
“You need five votes,” Ms. Balch said. “I think there are five on the current Supreme Court who would give serious consideration to Nebraska’s claim.”
A late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was killed in Kansas last year. The Associated Press reports that the bill is partially aimed at Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a late-term abortion provider who said he would continue Tiller's work in Nebraska.
Heineman also signed a separate law that would require health care workers to screen women for possible physical or mental risks before performing an abortion.