Nebraska Abortion Law Is Model For NC
Special Report - April 20, 2010
On April 13, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed two ground-breaking pro-life bills into lawone bans abortions after 20 weeks gestation, and the other allows women to sue abortion providers for psychological injuries resulting from unwanted, coerced, or unsafe abortions. LB 1103Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which passed by a margin of 445 and goes into effect on October 15, 2010, requires abortion providers to determine the probable gestational age of the child. If the child is at least 20 weeks old, abortion is prohibited. LB 594Women’s Health Protection Act, which passed 409 and goes into effect on July 15, 2010, requires abortion providers to evaluate patients to identify physical, psychological, emotional, demographic, and situational risk factors associated with abortion. Patients who suffer psychological injuries as a result of an unwanted, coerced, or unsafe abortion are entitled to bring a lawsuit against abortionists who do not comply with the screening requirement. Both laws are the first of their kind in the United States.
LB 1103 was passed in large part due to the growing body of medical evidence showing that unborn children are capable of experiencing pain as early as 20 weeks gestation. Violation of the ban on abortions after 20 weeks provides a cause of action against the doctor for actual damages for the mother or father of the child. The mother cannot be penalized for procuring an abortion after 20 weeks. The law does include an exception to save the life of the mother or another unborn child.
LB 594 mirrored model legislationProtection from Coerced and Unsafe Abortionsby the Elliot Institute from 1985. “Nearly every study done on abortion and mental health, whether before or since 1985, has found that certain subgroups of women were at higher risk of negative reactions,” according to Elliot Institute director Dr. David Reardon in a press release on the new law. The law is the first of its kind, establishing a specific standard for pre-abortion screening that includes requiring abortionists to ask the woman whether she is being pressured, coerced, or forced into the decision to have an abortion, and then providing a method of recourse for victims of negligent screening. “Without screening, it is impossible for a doctor to give informed medical advice. Performing an abortion on request, regardless of the risks, is contrary to both medical ethics and the law,” said Reardon, referencing the Roe v. Wade assertion that “the abortion decision in all its aspects is inherently, and primarily, a medical decision, and basic responsibility for it must rest with the physician.” He concluded, “Nebraska has now done what the states should have been doing a long time ago. They have removed the loopholes in civil law that prevent women from being able to hold abortionists accountable for the negligent screening that predictably leads to so many unwanted, unsafe, and unnecessary abortions.”
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