News Law and Policy

In Case You Missed It: Three States Have Proposed 20-Week Abortion Bans in First Weeks of 2015

Nina Liss-Schultz

In the midst of the Republican-controlled Congress’ introduction—and then revocation—of a 20-week abortion ban, along with its introduction of a handful of other anti-choice bills, it can be easy to forget that the fight for abortion access is largely taking place in state legislatures.

In the midst of the Republican-controlled Congress’ introduction—and then revocation—of a 20-week abortion ban, along with its introduction of a handful of other anti-choice bills, it can be easy to forget that the fight for abortion access is largely taking place in state legislatures.

At least three states have already introduced 2015 legislation that would ban abortion after 20 weeks: South Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia. As Rewire has reported, lawmakers in the three states have introduced a smattering of choice-related legislation, which include bans on abortion weeks before medical experts have said a fetus can be “viable,” the term laid out by Roe v. Wade as the point after which abortion may not be legally protected.

South Carolina lawmakers last week introduced two bills, SB 130 and SB 25, that would create penalties for physicians who perform abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization. The bills, both deceptively named the “South Carolina Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” are based on faulty evidence claiming that fetuses can feel pain after about 20 weeks.

SB 130 would create exceptions for medical emergencies or cases in which the pregnancy is caused by rape or incest; any physician who performs an abortion after 20 weeks, unless the case falls under those three exceptions, would have his or her medical license revoked.

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SB 25 creates an exception if there is a medical emergency. Physicians who perform abortions after 20 weeks under this bill could be found guilty of a misdemeanor offense.

In West Virginia, state Rep. David Perry (D-Fayette) introduced HB 2153, his second 20-week abortion ban in two years. Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has said he will veto the bill if it gets to his desk, though Republicans may have enough votes this year to overturn the governor’s veto.

In Virginia, lawmakers on Thursday introduced HB 2321, a bill that would make performing an abortion after 20 weeks, except in cases of medical emergency, a felony offense.

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