| BIRMINGHAM, Ala, June 15
BIRMINGHAM, Ala, June 15 Alabama Governor
Robert Bentley on Wednesday signed into law a bill banning
abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, making it the fifth U.S.
state to enact such a restriction this year.
"I believe that life begins at conception and I signed this
bill to further commit my promise to protect the life of an
unborn child," Bentley, a Republican, said in a statement.
The law goes into effect on Sept. 1.
The measure, which was approved by large majorities in both
chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature, makes no
exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Alabama state law currently allows abortion up to the stage
of fetal viability, usually between 24 and 26 weeks gestation.
The new law makes it a felony to perform an abortion after
20 weeks -- when some controversial research suggests a fetus
can feel pain -- unless the woman's pregnancy puts her at risk
of death or substantial physical harm. It also requires
physicians to report each abortion to a state database and
compile an annual report of abortions.
The new restrictions are similar to ones enacted in Idaho,
Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma earlier this year and a law passed
in Nebraska in 2010, said Elizabeth Nash, public policy
associate with the Guttmacher Institute, an organization
focusing on sexual and reproductive health.
The Guttmacher Institute estimates that 1.5 percent of
abortions in the Unites States occur after the 20th week. The
institute's research on induced abortions states that 88
percent of abortions in the U.S. take place in the first 12
weeks of pregnancy.
"By signing this bill, Governor Bentley shows a deliberate
disregard to women's well-being and creates a law that poses a
serious threat to women's health," said Olivia Turner,
executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)