New abortion restrictions possible in U.S.

Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:37am EST
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By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters Life!) - From bans on late-term abortions to requiring providers to offer women sonograms of their fetuses, conservative lawmakers in the United States are pushing abortion curbs this year in dozens of states.

Some bills may have a greater chance of success this year than in the past because there are more conservative legislators and governors.

"I am actually looking forward to a number of victories," said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of the department of state legislation of the National Right to Life Committee.

"We're very worried," said Donna Crane, policy director for NARAL Pro-Choice America. Crane said that because anti-abortion forces have more votes, "the flood gates are open."

The main reason those seeking abortion restrictions are on the offensive is the Republican sweep in midterm elections last year. Although it is not always the case, most Republicans tend to oppose abortion and most Democrats support it.

Republicans gained nearly 700 state legislative seats and now have their largest numbers since the Great Depression, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Republicans now have majority control of the state legislatures in 25 states, Democrats 16 states and the parties share control in eight states. Nebraska does not give party affiliation. Republicans also hold 29 governorships to 20 for Democrats and one independent.

Among the more than 200 bills being proposed this year are an Ohio measure that would ban abortions once a heartbeat can be detected -- as early as 18 days for some women.   Continued...