April 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Recent late-term abortion bans based on fetal pain set to pass in state legislatures across the country are expected to become law without judicial challenge from pro-abortion activists, according to a Politico report yesterday.
Oklahoma, Idaho and Kansas passed laws this month banning late term abortions on the basis of medical evidence that the unborn baby can feel pain. The cut-off point for legal abortions is now 20 weeks gestation in Idaho and Oklahoma, and 22 weeks in Kansas.
At least fourteen other states look ready to follow suit, according to the report. They will join not only Oklahoma, Idaho and Kansas, but also Nebraska, which last year became the first state to ban abortions after 20 weeks based on fetal pain.
According to Politico, opponents of the new laws argue that they defy the standard set by Roe v. Wade, which allows the state to prohibit abortions based only on fetal viability. Pro-abortion groups, however, are unwilling to bring the issue to court for fear of defeat.
Gretchen Borchelt, legislative counsel for the National Women’s Law Center, told the news service that Carhart v. Gonzalez, which upheld the national Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, “open[ed] the floodgates” for more restrictive abortion legislation.
“Generally, we all feel confident that the right to abortion as granted in the constitution will be protected,” she said. “But I think Gonzalez showed that five of the justices are willing to do that, to allow these challenges at the edges that wouldn’t formerly overturn the Roe decision.”
Mary Spaulding Balch, the state legislation director of the National Right to Life Committee, called the recent legislative trend “an explosion,” and said that she hopes to see the issue play out in court.
“I do think that this raises a new issue that has not been presented to the court and comes up with information that was not available in 1973,” she told Politico.
She also said that she expects at least five more states to pass fetal pain laws by the end of the legislative session.
However, Nancy Northrup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told the paper that their organization is not focusing on late-term bans since they prohibit only a small percentage of the abortions actually performed in those states.
“We don’t jump just because the anti-choice movement jumps,” she said. “They’re trying to move the agenda to a small percentage of cases, but we’re not fighting on their turf.”