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Late-term abortion ban clears House committee on 7-6 party-line vote

A proposal to ban most abortions on or after the 20th week of pregnancy is headed to the House floor after being approved on a 7-6 party-line vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 390 was backed by GOP lawmakers on the panel, while Democrats were united in opposing it.

About 60 members of the public braved cold weather to attend today’s hearing, and testimony for and against the proposal was limited to roughly 30 minutes per side.

Alan Firestone, a retired Bernalillo physician, said the decision to have a late-term abortion should be up to doctors and their patients, saying, “I think physicians are already regulated enough with respect to these (procedures).”

But Allen Sanchez, the executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the bill would be a step toward outlawing abortion — a position the Catholic Church supports.

“I think you’re actually called to vote for this,” Sanchez told lawmakers.

The measure is one of two abortion-related bills being pushed by House Republicans, who have a majority this year for the first time in 60 years.

The bill approved today would allow exceptions if the procedure were necessary to preserve the life or health of the woman — although doctors also would be required to take “all reasonable steps” to preserve the life and health of the fetus — or if the pregnancy resulted from sexual abuse, rape or incest.

The House Judiciary Committee is now taking up the other abortion-related measure, an attempt to enact a law that would require minors seeking an abortion to notify a parent or guardian before undergoing the procedure.

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