House Bill 954
Effective date: Became effective for rule-making purposes upon Governor’s signature. For all other purposes, effective date is January 1, 2013.
Based on legislative findings that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by at least 20 weeks after fertilization, this bill prohibits abortions in cases in which the probable gestational age of the unborn child has been determined to be 20 weeks or more, unless the pregnancy is diagnosed as medically futile or, in reasonable medical judgment, the abortion is necessary for one of the following reasons:
- To avert the death of the pregnant woman or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment to a major bodily function of the pregnant woman. A claim of a mental or emotional condition or that the pregnant woman will harm herself does not satisfy this provision; OR
- To preserve the life of an unborn child.
When an abortion is performed on or after 20 weeks pursuant to one of these two exceptions, the physician must terminate the pregnancy in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, unless that manner would pose a greater risk of either the death of the pregnant woman or substantial and irreversible physical impairment to a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.
The bill requires physicians to make a determination of the probable gestational age of an unborn child before performing an abortion, except in the case of a medical emergency or a medically futile pregnancy. Failure to comply with this requirement will constitute unprofessional conduct and subject the physician to medical licensing sanctions. Any physician who performs, or attempts to perform, an abortion must report certain information to the Department of Community Health (DCH), and DCH is to issue a public report providing statistics on the information submitted, provided that the identities of women who received an abortion and physicians are to be confidential. The bill also provides that a plaintiff seeking relief in a civil suit for violations related to determining probable gestational age prior to an abortion must produce clear and convincing evidence that the physician determining the probable gestational age of the fetus was negligent in his or her determination. Moreover, a female who makes a false representation of her age or name in soliciting an abortion will not have standing to make a claim against any party for violations of the above provisions or pursuant to the Woman’s Right to Know Act.
Crawford and Boyle, LLC