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TODAY'S QUESTION: Does Nebraska's new abortion law make a woman's right to choose unnecessarily difficult?

Friday, July 16, 2010 | 5:59 p.m. CDT; updated 6:05 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 16, 2010

A recent law has just made it more difficult for women in Nebraska to get an abortion.

The new law requires mental health screenings for women looking to have an abortion, according to a story by National Public Radio.

Although the law was supposed to take effect Thursday, a legal battle has put it on hold. According to NPR, U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp granted Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s request for a preliminary injunction. This will keep the law from taking effect until the lawsuit is resolved.

Planned Parenthood has voiced its concern that the law could would require doctors to give information irrelevant to an abortion. Under the law, women seeking an abortion must be screened for risk factors showing any potential mental or physical problems resulting from an abortion. The group filed a lawsuit on June 28 challenging LB 594, according to an article from the Iowa Independent.

The problem, says Mimi Liu, staff attorney for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is even if physicians adhere to the law there's no way to make sure they're following the letter of the law as it's written.

“Since it is impossible to comply, there is one way, and only one way, that a physician can be certain he or she is not violating LB 594: Cease providing abortion care," Liu said. "That amounts to a ban on a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. That is unconstitutional.”

However, according to a Huffington Post article, state officials claim the law is intended to ensure women understand the risks and possible complications associated with having an abortion. The bill is one of two that further restrict the ability to have an abortion.

But in an article from the Lincoln Journal Star, Greg Schleppenbach, director of pro-life activity for the Nebraska Catholic Conference, argues that LB594 is clear in its description of which literature abortion providers must review and provide to patients. The literature must be peer-reviewed and Schleppenbach said the amount of literature the law will require physicians to read would amount to about six studies a year.

While opponents of the law say it restricts a woman's right to have an abortion, Schleppenbach said the law was meant to protect patients by requiring abortion providers to inform them of risk factors, a common practice in the medical profession.

Does Nebraska's new abortion law make a woman's right to chose unnecessarily difficult?


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