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April 13, 2010, 2:30 p.m. CT

Jen Rae Hein
Ashley Cradduck

Gov. Heineman Signs Prolife Legislation

(Lincoln Neb.) PHOTO GALLERY - Gov. Dave Heineman today signed LB 594 and LB 1103 into law. Both bills are seen as first-of-their-kind legislation regarding women seeking an abortion in Nebraska.

"LB 594 and LB 1103 represent important legislation for Nebraska and I want to thank both senators for their thoughtful approach to this issue," Gov. Heineman said.

The Governor was joined at the signing ceremony by Sen. Cap Dierks of Ewing, who introduced LB 594, and Speaker of the Legislature, Sen. Mike Food of Norfolk, who sponsored LB 1103.

LB 594 updates Nebraska’s informed consent law to help ensure any patient seeking an abortion is doing so voluntarily. It adds provisions to state statute to ensure physicians and medical providers take into account potential risk factors, as well as any potential for physical or mental complications. The bill also outlines a civil process that will be available to any woman who feels she was not properly informed of those risks.

Sen. Dierks said, "Women are suffering from avoidable physical and psychological complications that may have been prevented or minimized had they received adequate pre-abortion screening and counseling. Women deserve better. LB 594 will ensure that women receive the appropriate standard of care."

LB 594 was approved by the Nebraska Legislature 40 to 9, and will take effect in July, 90 days after session concludes.

Under LB 1103, abortions after 20 weeks will not be allowed in Nebraska based on studies indicating an unborn child is capable of feeling pain by that stage in a pregnancy. The current standard is based on fetal viability, which is generally considered to occur around 22 to 24 weeks. It also will require physicians to report to state officials the point in the pregnancy at which abortions are performed.

Sen. Flood said, "The U.S. Supreme Court has clearly affirmed that states have a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting unborn human life at different stages in the pregnancy. And considering the scientific evidence that the 20 week-old unborn child has the ability to feel pain, state regulation of these late term abortions is both appropriate and necessary."

The bill passed on a 44 to 5 vote and will take effect Oct. 15.

Both bills allow for exemptions in medical emergencies.


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