Kansas lawmakers aim to ban late-term abortions based on fetal pain claims

Kansas lawmakers plan to consider legislation modeled on a new Nebraska law that restricts late-term abortions based on the claim that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks.

"I think the issue of fetal pain is an important one, and one that is becoming more and more a part of the debate," said Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, who has championed late-term abortion reforms for the past several years.

"I think it's reasonable to expect that same kind of discussion is going to take place here."

Nebraska's law, which took effect in October, outlaws abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the notion of fetal pain. It allows exceptions when a woman's life is in danger or to save an additional fetus in the womb — but not for a woman's mental health or for discovery of a fetal anomaly.

The law marks the first time a state has outlawed abortion so early in a pregnancy without an exception for the woman's health.

Abortion opponents call it model legislation for other states, and say it could provide a direct challenge to Supreme Court precedents that restrict government's ability to prohibit abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb.

The law shut down LeRoy Carhart, the abortion provider from Omaha who had planned to expand his practice outside Omaha and provide late-term abortions to women across the Midwest. Carhart, who expressed interest in coming to Kansas after the murder of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller last year, has since opened a clinic in Maryland.

Lawmakers in Indiana, Iowa and Kentucky have begun drafting bills similar to Nebraska's law.

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