Strict abortion limits advance in Idaho, Kentucky

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March 9 (Reuters) - Anti-abortion measures moving through Idaho and Kentucky's legislatures would severely restrict or essentially end access to abortion in those states, abortion rights advocates said on Wednesday.

In Idaho, a bill that would ban abortion after six weeks - before many women know they are pregnant - and allow relatives of the fetus to sue providers who perform abortions after that gestation period passed the Senate last week and will likely pass the House in coming days.

In Kentucky, the House has passed a bill that includes several abortion restrictions, including a requirement that fetal remains be cremated or interred, and a requirement that a combination birth-death or stillbirth certificate be issued for each abortion.

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The two states are among those with Republican-led legislatures across the country that are swiftly passing new abortion limits in anticipation that the U.S. Supreme Court will likely undercut constitutional abortion protections this year.

Forty states have introduced more than 500 anti-abortion measures so far in 2022, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy group. read more Missouri lawmakers are considering a recently introduced measure that would allow citizens to sue anyone who helps women get abortions beyond state borders.

"This six-week ban, coupled with the restrictions that are already on the books in Idaho, would put abortion out of reach entirely for most Idahoans," Planned Parenthood's Idaho state director Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman told reporters on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court has signaled its willingness to allow a 15-week abortion ban to stand in Mississippi, which would undermine the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established the right to have an abortion before a fetus is viable, typically around 23 or 24 weeks. A decision in the Mississippi case is expected this spring.

Idaho's measure is similar to Texas' six-week ban, which allows the general public to sue anyone who helps women get abortions after six weeks. The number of abortions in Texas dropped by some 60% within the first month after the law took effect on Sept. 1, according to state health department data.

If the Idaho state House passes the bill, as expected, it will then go to Republican Governor Brad Little, who is anti-abortion. It would take effect 30 days after being signed by the governor.

Blaine Conzatti, president of the anti-abortion organization Idaho Family Policy Center, applauded the Senate's passage of the bill, saying in a statement that "preborn babies deserve the same constitutional right to life" as born people.

The Kentucky bill will likely be heard in a Senate committee next week, and it is expected to pass the full Republican-led chamber.

If Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, vetoes the bill, the Senate Republicans' supermajority could override the veto and make the law effective immediately.

Two provisions in the measure would hinder the state's abortion clinics from operating, Planned Parenthood's Kentucky state director Tamarra Wieder said on Wednesday.

The first is a requirement that the state Board of Pharmacy certify providers who dispense abortion pills. That process could not feasibly happen as quickly as the law would take effect, Wieder said.

The second is a requirement that fetal remains be cremated or interred, which would place "unsustainable" logistical and cost burdens on the clinics, she said.

"We are most certainly looking at the final few weeks of abortion in Kentucky," Wieder said.

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Reporting by Gabriella Borter Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Lisa Shumaker

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