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Ark., Mo., Iowa Lawmakers Consider Measures Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks

Ark., Mo., Iowa Lawmakers Consider Measures Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks

March 21, 2011 — The Arkansas House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee failed to advance a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the claim that a fetus can ostensibly feel pain at that point, the AP/Arizona Republic reports. The bill is based on a similar law recently passed in Nebraska, and would have charged doctors with a felony for performing the procedure after 20 weeks. In addition, physicians who failed to file reports if the procedure was performed after 20 weeks in order to save the woman's life would have faced misdemeanor charges.

The state Attorney General's Office opposed the legislation. State Deputy Attorney General Elizabeth Walker said the measure likely would have been declared unconstitutional (AP/Arizona Republic, 3/18).

Mo. House Passes Law To Prohibit Abortions After 20 Weeks

The Missouri House voted 119-38 to approve a bill (HB 213) that bans abortions after 20 weeks if a physician determines that the fetus could survive outside of the womb, the Kansas City Star reports. The bill would make exceptions in cases where the woman's health is at risk. The measure now moves to the Senate (Noble, Kansas City Star, 3/18).

Iowa House To Consider 20-Week Abortion Ban

The Iowa House is poised to consider legislation (HF 5) that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of medical emergencies, the AP/Marshalltown Times Republican reports. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R) would not say whether he thought the legislation would pass as written. Although Republicans hold the majority in the chamber, efforts to increase abortion restrictions have not advanced this session because some Republicans support banning only some abortions, while others want to ban the procedure outright.

Opponents of the measure said the language involving what constitutes a medical emergency is too vague. Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal (D) said he would allow the measure to work through the committees of the Democrat-controlled Senate, as long as the restrictions are approved in the House. Supporters of the bill said they drafted it to be able to withstand a legal challenge (AP/Times Republican, 3/17).