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25 March 2010

Joe Smith: House Passes Bill Protecting the Lives of the Unborn, Expecting Mothers

I am firmly planted in my belief that we should do everything in our power to protect the sanctity of life.  In addition to the lives of the unborn, we must remember to shield expectant mothers from harm.  On Monday, we perfected House Bill 1327 and 2000, which changes the laws regarding the consent requirements for obtaining an abortion and creates the crime of coercing an abortion. Many times, women who seek to get an abortion only do so because they are forced or pressured to do so by their husband, boyfriend or any other outside force.  This is wrong and should be against the law.

If a person is found guilty of this despicable behavior, he or she will be subject to face a class A felony with a maximum prison term of 10 years, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.  The responsibility does not just fall on the coercer, however, but the doctor performing the abortion as well.  Any person who performs or induces an abortion and knows that the pregnant woman has been coerced will be guilty of a class C felony (except in the case of medical emergency).

The bill also takes steps to protect the lives of the unborn through requiring a thorough checklist of items that must be completed before an abortion is performed or induced.   Abortions cannot be performed or induced without the voluntary, informed and un-coerced consent of the expecting mother at least 24 hours prior to the abortion.  The physician must provide orally and in writing the following items:
  • The physician's name
  • Medically accurate information including the abortion method, any risks associated with the method being performed, alternative to abortion and follow-up care information.
  • The gestational age of the unborn child
  • The anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child
Physicians must also provide prominently displayed statements encouraging a pregnant woman seeking an abortion to contact agencies that help women carry an unborn child to full term and statements that inform the women that no one can coerce a person to have an abortion. A facility must maintain a toll-free, confidential, 24-hour hotline telephone number for callers to obtain regional information about abortions, risks and alternative to abortions.  This information must also be available on the facility's website.

Through these important steps, we are hopeful that expecting mothers will be fully informed about abortion and the risks that may result from the procedure.  Most notably, we hope that this legislation will save lives of the unborn and allow expectant mothers to have the care, attention and resources they need to carry their unborn child to full term.

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