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La., N.C., S.C. Lawmakers Address Abortion-Related Legislation

La., N.C., S.C. Lawmakers Address Abortion-Related Legislation

May 6, 2011 — The Louisiana House Committee on Health and Welfare on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill (HB 586) that would require abortion clinics to display signs stating that a woman cannot be forced to have an abortion and that the woman's partner is liable for child support, the AP/WJTV.com reports. In addition, the signs must indicate that public and private agencies will be available to help the woman before and after she gives birth, and that adoptive parents may pay for pregnancy-related care. Currently, abortion providers must tell women seeking abortion care about the information, but they do not have to post it on signs.

The committee also added a provision that would require abortion providers to inform prospective patients about a website with detailed information. The site would include information about adoption agencies, crisis pregnancy centers and fetal development, including photos and statements about a fetus' ability to feel pain, as well as information on the risks of carrying a pregnancy to term.

In addition, the bill would modify an existing state law that balances the right of a physician to refuse services based on his or her conscience with the right of a patient to access services. Under the bill, the part about a patient's right to access care would be removed. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has endorsed the bill, which now proceeds to the full House for debate (Davis, AP/WJTV.com, 5/4).

N.C. Considers Ultrasound Requirements

The North Carolina House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday heard testimony in support and opposition to additional requirements to a bill (HB 854) that would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound at least four hours before the procedure, the AP/Greensboro News & Record reports.

The provider would have to describe the ultrasound image. Although the woman would not have to watch the ultrasound screen or listen to the description, she would have to sign a document acknowledging that the image description was provided, and the document would have to be kept on file for at least seven years. A woman would also have to be provided with state-mandated counseling 24 hours prior to the procedure.

Supporters for the requirements said they would give the woman a more complete picture of the developing fetus and the medical risks involved with abortion, while critics said they would make abortion care more difficult and expensive (Dalesio, AP/Greensboro News & Record, 5/4).

S.C. Senate Approves 'Fetal Pain' Notification Measure

The South Carolina Senate on Wednesday, during a debate on the state's budget, approved by voice vote an amendment that would require abortion clinics to tell women that a fetus may feel pain, the AP/Charlotte Observer reports. Under the measure, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control would have to prepare printed material stating that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks and that women may request anesthesia for the fetus during an abortion (AP/Charlotte Observer, 5/4).

During the hearings, senators also voted 26-20 to strike down an amendment by Sen. Lee Bright (R) that would have removed exemptions in a current law barring the state health plan from covering abortion, the AP/WISTV reports. The amendment would have removed exceptions for instances of rape and incest. The lawmakers also rejected a compromise measure by Sen. Brad Hutto (D) that would have created separate accounts to cover abortions in limited cases by allowing state employees to choose whether they wanted their premiums to cover abortions (Adcox, AP/WISTV, 5/6).