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Ariz., Ind., Tenn. Lawmakers Advance Abortion Legislation

Ariz., Ind., Tenn. Lawmakers Advance Abortion Legislation

April 20, 2011 — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) on Monday signed a bill (SB 1169) to change state law so that the Arizona Board of Nursing has no authority to say whether nurse practitioners are allowed to perform surgical abortions, the AP/Arizona Daily Star reports. The law is in response to a 2008 Board of Nursing decision that nurse practitioners can perform a surgical abortion in the first trimester and follows a 2009 law prohibiting non-physicians from providing a surgical abortion. The 2009 law is being challenged in court (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 4/18).

Indiana Senate Passes Bill To Tighten Abortion Restrictions, Withhold State Funds From Planned Parenthood

The Indiana Senate on Tuesday approved legislation (SB 328) by a vote of 35-13 that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless a woman's life or health is substantially threatened and also prohibit state contracts or grants for Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide abortion services, the AP/Indianapolis Business Journal reports (AP/Indianapolis Business Journal, 4/20). Current state law permits abortion before viability. The legislation also would require that abortion providers inform women in writing that human life begins when the egg is fertilized, that abortion can increase the chances of infertility and that a fetus might feel pain before 20 weeks. State Sen. Scott Schneider (R) said the measure would not reduce funding for the more than 60 state clinics that provide health screening services. He said Planned Parenthood was slated to receive about $3 million this year in state-related funding. Critics of the prohibition said federal and state laws already disallow the use of federal funds for abortion, adding that Planned Parenthood uses the funds for services such as birth control and pelvic and breast exams (Davies, AP/Indianapolis Business Journal, 4/19). Planned Parenthood said the bill is unconstitutional and that it might file a lawsuit. Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said, "It makes absolutely no sense to reduce access to birth control when the objective is to reduce the incidence of abortion" (AP/Indianapolis Business Journal, 4/20).

Tennessee Senate Passes Resolution Saying Abortion Access Is Not Protected Right

The Tennessee Senate on Monday passed a resolution (SJR 0127) by a vote of 24-8 stating that nothing in the state Constitution "secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion," the AP/Washington Examiner reports.

The legislation would void a 2000 state Supreme Court ruling that found the state Constitution provides greater protection for abortion rights than the U.S. Constitution. After the ruling, Tennessee had dropped several abortion restrictions, including a 48-hour waiting period before a woman can receive abortion care, a provision regulating the information clinics must provide to women seeking abortion care, and a mandate that abortion care after the first-trimester must be provided at a hospital.

Lawmakers failed to pass an amendment to the resolution that would have allowed abortion care access for "cases involving rape or incest or in cases where the procedure is medically necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman" (Johnson, AP/Washington Examiner, 4/19).