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Bills in Del., N.C., Kan., Pa., Aim To Limit Abortion Access

Bills in Del., N.C., Kan., Pa., Aim To Limit Abortion Access

May 12, 2011 — Delaware lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a bill (HB 80) that would require consent from at least one parent before a teen younger than age 18 could receive an abortion, unless there is a medical emergency, the AP/MSNBC reports. Current law requires that abortion providers provide parental notification at least 24 hours prior to the procedure for a minor younger than age 16. A girl who does not want her parents to be notified must convince a judge that it is in her best interest or that she is mature and informed enough to make the decision on her own.

Opponents of the bill, sponsored by House Minority Leader Greg Lavelle, said the notification law is working and the consent bill would not have provided safeguards for minors in cases of rape or incest. They also noted that the bill would have eliminated the ability of a minor to consult with a mental health professional if she was afraid to notify her parents (Chase, AP/MSNBC, 5/12).

Kan. Lawmakers Discuss Bill Prohibiting Insurers From Covering Abortion

Kansas lawmakers on Wednesday planned to resume negotiations between the state House and Senate over a bill (HB 2292) that would prohibit health plans from covering abortion care, except for procedures needed to save a woman's life, the AP/Topeka Capital-Journal reports. Health plans could offer abortion coverage through separate policies, a requirement already in place in five states.

Supporters of the bill said employers and individuals should not have to pay for abortion coverage if they are morally opposed to it. Abortion-rights advocates said the bill would limit access to abortion care by making it more difficult for people to pay for the procedure.

Because the legislative session ends Thursday, supporters are trying to attach the measure to other bills. Abortion-rights supporters said they are frustrated by the maneuvering, noting that legislative rules require that a bill pass at least one chamber before negotiations between the House and Senate begin (Hanna, AP/Topeka Capital-Journal, 5/11).

N.C. Judiciary Panel May Vote on New Abortion Restrictions

A North Carolina House subcommittee voted 9-5 to approve a bill (HB 854) that would add new restrictions on abortion services, including requiring an ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period before having an abortion, the AP/WRAL reports (AP/WRAL, 5/11).

The bill would require that the abortion provider 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. The woman would also have to be provided with state-mandated counseling 24 hours prior to the procedure (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/6).

North Carolina is one of 16 states that do not require state-mandated counseling prior to an abortion, according to the AP/WRAL (AP/WRAL, 5/11).

Pa. House Approves Bill To Tighten Standards for Abortion Clinics

The Pennsylvania House on Wednesday voted to approve a bill (HB 574) that would require abortion clinics to abide by the same regulations as freestanding ambulatory surgical centers, the AP/WFMJ reports. The 148-43 vote for the Republican-sponsored bill included support from dozens of Democrats. The bill's fate is uncertain in the Senate, where a different bill on a similar subject is under consideration (Scolforo, AP/WFMJ, 5/11).

The bill's passage comes on the heels of a scandal involving Philadelphia abortion provider Kermit Gosnell, who was charged by a grand jury for killing a woman and infants while performing illegal abortions in unsafe and filthy conditions.

Proponents of the measure said it will address problems found during recent inspections of abortion clinics across the state, while opponents said it would place onerous requirements on abortion clinics and force many to close, creating an indirect burden on women seeking abortion care.

One amendment, by Rep. Chris Ross (R), would have spelled out how inspections would be conducted and how complaints would be handled by state agencies. The amendment on Tuesday failed 130-68, with 27 Democrats casting no votes with nearly all Republicans. Amendments exempting facilities that only provide contraception and for clinics already in operation also failed (Scolforo, AP/Chambersburg Public Opinion, 5/10).