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State legislatures hit with flurry of Republican abortion bills

A federal court has ruled that the government must allow abortions for illegal immigrant teens who are being held in federal custody. Here, a protester in Chile is shown holding a model of an infant. (Claudio Reyes/Getty Images)

Republican lawmakers - who control the majority of state legislatures - are proposing a "wide variety of of abortion legislation" that place restrictions on a woman's ability to terminate a pregnancy, the Associated Press reported.

The movement is happening in states across the nation.

What are lawmakers proposing?

According to the report, the Mississippi House on Friday passed a bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In Missouri, lawmakers heard testimony earlier this week on a bill to ban abortions later than 20 weeks. And the Ohio House is expected to consider bills already passed in the Senate that would prohibit a procedure used to end pregnancies after 13 weeks. The Ohio bills also contain a requirement to have fetal remains buried or cremated.

In South Carolina, state senators this past week tabled a bill that would have banned most abortions, so that lawmakers could have more time to study the consequences, according to the AP.

And in Utah, Republican state Sen. Curt Bramble co-sponsored a bill to bar doctors from performing abortions when Down syndrome is diagnosed. Critics argue that the bill is unconstitutional. But Bramble has said he will defend the bill because it protects unborn children.

Since 2011, states with a majority of Republican lawmakers have passed hundreds of bills to limit abortions. Meanwhile, Democrat-led states have gone in the opposite direction, the AP reported. The increase in proposed abortion legislation has people on both side of the issue anticipating that the Supreme Court will soon consider the question of how much leverage states have over abortions.

State bills this year are "all tests designed to see how far government power to legislate on behalf of a fetus can reach,” Jessica Mason Pieklo, a senior legal analyst for Rewire, told the Associated Press. Rewire is a website that promotes pro-abortion views.

Robin Utz, 38, of St. Louis, spoke against the Missouri bill this week, the AP reported. She said she was 21-weeks pregnant and terminated the pregnancy in November 2016 after learning her daughter would have a fatal kidney disease if she survived birth.

What about certain procedures?

In contrast, the National Right to Life Committee and its allies are pushing for state laws to ban abortions taking place after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The group also wants to outlaw dilation and evacuation, the most common procedure used in the second trimester, the AP reported. Supporters of the ban say fetuses are capable of feeling pain after 20 weeks, and the procedure amounts to a “dismemberment abortion.”

In Tennessee last week, a legislative committee amended a bill to remove language that would have outlawed abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, typically around six weeks. Republican Rep. Micah Van Huss, who sponsored the bill, said the fight is not over.

“I will not stop fighting for the lives of babies until abortion is abolished in this state,” he told the Associated Press.

One last thing…
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