Here is some encouraging news on pro-life policies being proposed on the state level. In Nebraska, a new proposal, Legislative Bill 1103, seeks to make abortions illegal after the 20th week of pregnancy because a fetus can feel pain at that stage of gestation.
Nebraska has a record of being pro-life, with several laws already on the books, including mandatory parental notice, restricted insurance coverage of abortion, and mandatory counseling requirements and delays. This new bill, however, brings the abortion issue closer and closer to the states. Bruce Walker from the New American writes:
Medical opinion is divided on the question of how much pain a preborn baby feels and when the baby begins to feel pain. There is no doubt that the more developed the fetus, the more pain he or she will feel. Although doctors have different opinions of how much pain fetuses feel in the womb, advances in medical technology now allow surgical procedures to be performed on very small fetuses and, when surgery is performed, anesthesia is administered to the preborn patient.
One signal that this bill is a potential breakthrough for the pro-life movement is the fact that the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-choice think tank in New York City, is getting involved to oppose the bill. “This particular Nebraska bill is not subtle at all,” Nancy Northup, the group’s president, said. “It would require turning over two pillars of Roe in that states cannot establish a line of viability and the bill too narrowly defines an exception for women’s health.”
Walker notes that six states — Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Minnesota, Georgia, and Utah — do have laws requiring that a pregnant mother considering abortion be advised that the procedure could cause pain to the fetus. If Bill 1103 is passed, however, Nebraska would be the first to outlaw abortion because of pain to the fetus.
Although Bill 1103 contains a health exception for the mother, if this bill is passed it will add another law to the growing pro-life precedent in state laws that will bring the outlawing of abortion closer to reality.