Nebraska enacts two laws limiting abortions
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Nebraska's governor on Tuesday signed into law two anti-abortion measures that proponents say protects women and their viable fetuses but opponents charge are aimed at halting abortions altogether.
One measure requires doctors to screen extensively women seeking abortion, taking into account the latest scientific literature that weigh factors such as a mother's physical and mental health.
The other state law bars abortions after 20 weeks gestation on grounds the "unborn child can be capable of feeling pain," Republican Governor Dave Heineman said in signing the measure.
Either law could face constitutional challenges that could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority.
"There are strong grounds to believe that five members of the current U.S. Supreme Court would give serious consideration to Nebraska's assertion of a compelling state interest in preserving the life of an unborn child whom substantial medical evidence indicates is capable of feeling pain during an abortion," Mary Balch of National Right to Life said in a statement.
Kyle Carlson, a lawyer for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said the group will consider its options but will continue to provide abortion services.
He said the screening law appeared to be vague and a "moving target" that could be challenged legally as it requires doctors to ask clients about "any risk factor identified in any peer-reviewed (scientific) journal in the previous 12 months."
He said the law banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation would not affect Planned Parenthood because the group does not perform abortions after 20 weeks.
"The general principle behind both bills is the same," Carlson added. "It is to try to intimidate women out of believing they have a choice they can make about their reproductive health."
(Reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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