July 26, 2012 — Since Nebraska became the first state to enact so-called "fetal pain" legislation in 2010, eight other states have passed similar laws outlawing abortion beginning around 20 weeks of pregnancy.
In the first half of 2011, five states -- Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma -- enacted laws modeled after the Nebraska bill, which bans abortion beginning at 20 weeks after fertilization -- or about 22 weeks after the woman's last menstrual period -- based on the spurious claim that fetuses can feel pain at that point. North Carolina also passed a 20-week ban in 2011, although the law does not specifically cite fetal pain.
As of July 2012, three additional states -- Arizona, Georgia and Louisiana -- have passed similar measures. The Arizona law differs slightly from the other states' bans in that it begins at 20 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, all of the laws are unconstitutional because they ban abortion prior to fetal viability. This month, Arizona became the first state to face a court challenge to one of the laws when a group of physicians and reproductive-rights groups sued to block the measure.
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership