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States make headway on abortion restriction

Number of bills passed high for an election year

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**FILE** Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (Associated Press)

At least 75 bills to restrict abortion passed one state legislative chamber in the first quarter of 2012, the Guttmacher Institute said Friday.

While this wasn’t quite the flurry seen in 2011, when a record 127 abortion-restricting bills passed one chamber, it was “still higher than usual for an election year,” the research group said. As of April 1, nine bills had been enacted, it added.

Guttmacher issued its detailed report a day after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer made her state the seventh to ban abortions after a certain gestational period - around 20 weeks - because that is the time frame after which a fetus can feel pain. Such late-term abortions also are riskier to the mother’s health.

“Knowing that abortions become riskier the later they are performed in pregnancy, it only makes sense to prohibit these procedures past 20 weeks,” said Mrs. Brewer, a Republican.

A similar bill is awaiting action by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, also a Republican.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, is expected to sign legislation requiring all abortion doctors to have hospital privileges.

Diane Derzis, owner of Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has threatened to sue the state if the bill is enacted. Only one of her clinic doctors has hospital-admitting privileges, but the rest live out of state and cannot get such access to Mississippi hospitals, she said.

According to Guttmacher’s report, the most common abortion-restricting bills have required women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion (Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, enacted such a law in March); limiting medical abortion and/or remote “webcam” abortions (Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, recently enacted such a law); and the fetal-pain bills.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which opposes all these bills, recently issued an open letter from a Nebraska mother urging political leaders not to pass fetal-pain bills.

“My water broke and there was not enough amniotic fluid for my daughter to survive,” Danielle Deaver wrote. But instead of having labor induced, her doctor declined, saying she “would go to jail” because her pregnancy was past 22 weeks.

After 10 “awful” days, their daughter was born and died, Mrs. Deaver said, adding that they later learned that “had my doctor been able to get to it sooner,” the underlying infection might have been able to be treated and the baby saved.

“Please right the wrong that Nebraska did to me” and block these laws, Mrs. Deaver wrote. Cecile Richards, president of PPFA, urged supporters to sign the letter and send it to their lawmakers.

About the Author

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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