Nebraska has become the first state in the nation to ban late-term abortions based on the controversial theory that the fetus is capable of feeling pain by the 20th week of gestation. The law, which makes it a felony for a doctor to perform abortions after the 20th week, is expected to reignite the abortion debate nationwide with opponents already planning legal challenges, the JournalStar reports. A second law requires women be screened for mental health problems and other risk factors before an abortion.
Nebraska's action is expected to inspire copycat bills around the nation. Both opponents and advocates predict the issue will eventually reach the Supreme Court. "You need 5 votes,” the director of state legislation at National Right to Life tells the New York Times. “I think there are 5 on the current Supreme Court who would give serious consideration to Nebraska’s claim.”