Neb. law bans late-term abortions

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 3, 2010

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Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman in April signed into law a landmark abortion ban that advocates on both sides of the issue have indicated could set the stage for a U.S. Supreme Court battle over the scope of abortion restrictions.

The statute, believed to be the first of its kind, bars abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, based on controversial claims that a fetus may begin to feel pain by that stage. The law, which takes effect Oct. 15, includes an exception for medical emergencies.

Abortion-rights advocates have said the law is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion. Other precedents say states cannot restrict the procedure prior to fetal viability, generally 22 to 24 weeks, they said.

But anti-abortion groups said the Nebraska law questions that decades-old definition, and they highlight high court precedents affirming states' rights to restrict abortion.

While a court challenge to the Nebraska law is expected, no formal action had been filed at this article's deadline.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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