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'Fetal pain' bill crippled

March 27, 2012 at 12:11 PM   |   Comments

ALTANTA, Ga., March 27 (UPI) -- The "fetal pain" bill has been effectively gutted in Georgia State Senate, stopping hard-line anti-abortion legislation for the year, officials say.

The heart of the bill, which posits the controversial claim fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, trims six weeks from the allowed period during which a woman can have an elective abortion.

If an abortion must be performed, it must be done in such away to bring the fetus out alive. No exceptions were made for cases of rape, incest or even medically risky pregnancies.

If a doctor were to perform an abortion after 20 weeks that did not meet the requirements of the bill, the doctor could be charged with a felony.

With two days remaining in the General Assembly's annual legislative session, a bipartisan coalition in the state Senate forced changes into the bill, stalling any major changes to state abortion regulation. Among the changes, exceptions had to be made for "medically futile" pregnancies. The coalition also implemented changes to protect physicians from civil suits.

House Bill 954 would have been the first major abortion regulation in Georgia since 2007 when doctors became required by law to offer sonograms or ultrasounds to women before administering abortions.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported similar "fetal pain" restrictions are in effect in six other states -- Nebraska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and Alabama.

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