Ever since Roe v. Wade was decided 37 years ago, the right has done everything it could to reduce women's reproductive freedom by hamstringing this fundamental right. And now Nebraska lawmakers have passed a restrictive bill, which, together with another bill working its way through the state Legislature, could end up being among the first cases that the replacement for Supreme Court Justice J.P. Stevens has to decide.
With only nine senators opposed, the Legislature finalized the bill Monday. The governor is sure to sign. It requires doctors to screen women to see if they were pressured to get an abortion and for mental and physical problems that might result from an abortion.
Can we screen Nebraska lawmakers for mental health risk factors? Or perhaps we could save time if we'd just require men to be screened for "possible mental problems" before having sex? They could carry a little card around saying "not insane." Quite the pickup line.
Under the law, doctors will have to tell women whether they have any of the risk factors. They will not face criminal charges or potential loss of their licenses. Nonetheless, national abortion-rights groups perceive the bill as a means to scare doctors into not performing abortions. As if there weren't already enough pressure on doctors to avoid giving women this legal operation.
Another anti-abortion bill is also working its way through the Nebraska Legislature. This one seeks:
...to make abortions illegal after the 20th week of pregnancy -- is no different. The bright-line rule is necessary because of some medical evidence that a fetus can feel pain at that stage of gestation, sponsors of the legislation say.
The legislation has drawn national attention from groups such as the Center for Reproductive Rights, which sees it as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion. If the legislation passes, Nebraska will be the first state to ban abortions based on the controversial notion that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. State law now has a post-viability ban on abortion but defines viability on a case-by-case basis. ...
While some medical experts testified at the Nebraska hearings that a fetus is able to feel pain at 20 weeks, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement saying it knows of "no legitimate scientific information that supports the statement that a fetus experiences pain."
But then neither science nor women's rights have ever been high on the priority list of anti-choice advocates, in Nebraska or elsewhere.
[Graphic credit: Devilstower]
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