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Kan., Idaho Approve Bans on Abortion; Fla. Considering 18 Antiabortion Measures

Kan., Idaho Approve Bans on Abortion; Fla. Considering 18 Antiabortion Measures

March 24, 2011 — The Kansas Senate on Wednesday approved two bills that would further restrict abortion after 21 weeks of pregnancy and require the consent of two parents before a minor could obtain abortion care, the Wichita Eagle reports.

The state already prohibits abortion after 21 weeks of pregnancy except in cases where the woman's life is in danger or when continuing the pregnancy would cause substantial harm to her physical or mental health. The bill (HB 2218) approved Wednesday would remove the mental health exception.

The second bill (HB 2035) requires minors to obtain consent from two parents before receiving abortion services and also allows pregnant women or their families to file lawsuits against physicians who perform illegal abortions. The bill also would require providers to give detailed reports of gestational age to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. In addition, the legislation would change the wording in all state laws from "fetus" to "unborn child" and definitions of "viability" and "partial birth abortion." It would also require women seeking abortion services to sign a consent form that states that abortion "terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is expected to sign the bills into law, according to the Eagle (Fertig, Wichita Eagle, 3/24).

Idaho Passes Bill To Ban Abortion After 20 Weeks

The Idaho Senate on Wednesday voted to approve legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and make it a felony for anyone to perform the procedure after that point, Reuters reports. There would be no criminal penalty against the woman. The bill includes an exception in cases where there is a significant risk to the woman's health. It is based on a Nebraska law that claims a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.

The Idaho Attorney General's Office has issued a legal opinion that suggests the legislation could be ruled unconstitutional if it is challenged in court and would be costly to defend. The bill now heads to the state House, where it is expected to pass (Zuckerman, Reuters, 3/23).

Florida Lawmakers Considering at Least 18 Antiabortion Measures

Florida legislators are considering at least 18 bills that would tighten the state's abortion laws, placing the state among the top five in the U.S. for abortion bills, the Miami Herald reports. The most sweeping of the bills is a measure (HB 415) introduced by state Rep. Charles Van Zant (R) that would pose a legal challenge to Roe vs. Wade. Although the measure likely will not succeed without a similar measure in the state Senate, three antiabortion bills were approved in legislative committees on Tuesday.

One measure (HB 1127) approved by the House Health and Human Services Quality Subcommittee would require a woman to view an ultrasound before she gets an abortion. Another measure (HB 1397) would limit abortions in the third trimester and mandate ethics training for physicians. The bill also would require that abortion clinics be owned by doctors. In the state Senate, the Banking and Insurance Committee approved a bill (SB 1414) that would ban private insurance companies from covering abortion if any public funds are used for the policy.

Other measures being considered by state lawmakers include the "Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act," sponsored by state Sen. Ronda Storms (R) and Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R), would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy -- unless the abortion is necessary to protect the woman’s life, prevent a substantial and irreversible physical health impairment, or save the life of another fetus -- based on the theory that a fetus can feel pain at that point. State Sen. Anitere Flores (R) also proposed a constitutional amendment (SJR 1538) that would ban the use of public funds for health insurance policies that cover abortion, with no exception in cases of rape, incest, health of the woman or fetal anomaly.

Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Tuesday said he supports the measures. "I let people know my position. I've not surprised people. I'm going to be a pro-life governor," he said (Zink, Miami Herald, 3/22).