February 20, 2015

House panel advances late-term abortion, parental notification bills

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stressed woman doctorThe state’s House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee heard hours of impassioned, often graphic, public testimony before its Republican majority voted to pass two measures proposing to restrict abortion access and services.

Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, presented her HB 390, which would ban abortion procedures for any woman deemed by a physician to be 20 or more weeks pregnant. 

The bill’s language allows for exceptions if a woman attests her pregnancy resulted from rape, incest or abuse. There’s also an exception to the ban if a doctor deems a pregnant woman’s health is at risk.

“However,” said Herrell, “the physician must try to save the life of the unborn child.”

A related measure was introduced by Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas. It would require abortion providers to notify a parent or guardian of any unemancipated minor seeking an abortion procedure.

Minors could only bypass the parental notification requirement by petitioning a state district court judge for approval of their abortion procedure.

The bill’s fiscal impact report also includes a note that “current law takes into consideration that the pregnancy may cause grave impairment of the pregnant minor’s physical or mental health. The bill makes no similar consideration, but removes it entirely.”

More than 100 members of the public testified on both sides of each measures, many tearfully recounting personal stories reflective of the abortion debate’s longstanding divisive nature. Advocates for the restrictions described abortion as “violent” and “barbaric,” many of them citing Biblical doctrine. Three people said the late-term ban didn’t go far enough, urging lawmakers to remove the exemption for cases cases of rape, incest or abuse.

Meanwhile, opponents said the bills constitute a dangerous intrusion into “harrowing” private decisions women should make in consultation with their families and physicians.

The panel’s Republican majority also approved adding a special clause to both bills so they’ll go into effect as soon as they’re signed by the governor.

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