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Nebraska bill would ban nearly all late-term abortions

LINCOLN, Neb. - A group of lawmakers is pushing to make Nebraska the first state to outlaw most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, based on the argument that the fetus might feel pain during the procedure.

Emboldened by the Supreme Court's 2007 decision upholding a ban on a type of late-term abortion that abortion opponents call partial-birth abortion, in which a fetus is partly removed from the womb and destroyed, the legislators seek to ban all late-term abortions except when the mother's life is threatened.

If the bill were to pass it would surely face a court challenge and could end up before the Supreme Court. Medical and legal experts testified yesterday for and against the bill before a legislature committee.

No other state has attempted to restrict abortions based on the pain a fetus might feel, said Mary Spaulding Balch, the legislative director for National Right to Life.

Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Utah require that pregnant women be told an abortion could cause pain for the fetus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The bill, introduced by Speaker Mike Flood, bases its assertion that fetuses feel pain on the testimony of doctors, some of it given during a 2005 congressional hearing on the subject.

But testimony from that hearing also suggested the medical community has not reached a consensus on fetal pain. - AP

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