Senate Committee Passes 20-Week Abortion Ban Measure

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It has been another emotional morning at the Statehouse. Members of the Senate State Affairs Committee heard testimony on a piece of legislation that would ban elective abortion 20 weeks following fertilization. Abortion opponents and proponents came out in force to argue the measure's thesis that a 20-week fetus feels pain.

"There is a basis to believe that this law is constitutional and that it will recognize the humanity of the unborn in their capacity to feel pain," said Teresa Collett, co-sponsor and law professor from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, Minn.

"The premise of this bill is not a scientifically accepted fact," said Marty Durand, attorney for Planned Parenthood.

A similar measure was adopted in Nebraska in 2010, but Planned Parenthood spokesperson Kristen Glundberg-Prossor told Citydesk that in one instance, legislation put a woman's life at risk.

"The mother's water broke five months into her pregnancy," said Glundberg-Prossor. "The loss off amniotic fluid stopped the baby's lung development and the chance of survival was less than 10 percent. But Nebraska law prohibited her from inducing labor early. When the child was born, she survived for only 15 minutes. Because of the law, the mother was forced to risk her own health and endure the mental anguish of carrying a child that would not survive."

The Idaho Medical Association rarely weighs in on legislation regarding abortion but that changed this morning.

"In my 19 years as legal counsel to the association, I've never appeared before the legislature on an abortion matter," said Ken McClure. "But I'm compelled to be here."

McClure said that current Idaho code takes three important factors into consideration when considering abortion: the mother's life, the child's life and whether two physicians concur that the fetus would be able to survive. However, the new legislation did not take the third factor into account.

"This conflicts with current Idaho code," said McClure.

In the end, the committee voted 7-2 along part lines to forward the bill to the full Senate with a "do pass" recommendation.

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