SHERIDAN — A bill going before the legislature this session will enforce stricter abortion laws if passed.
Senator Dave Kinskey said that House Bill 0116 is aimed squarely at banning late-term abortions. He said the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed it lawful to ban late-term abortions, which it defines as the point at which the child is viable.
Currently, the definition of viable is that the embryo or fetus is “able to live by natural or life-supportive systems outside the womb of the mother, according to appropriate medical judgement.” To this definition, the bill adds that viable also includes the point at which the fetus can feel pain.
Kinskey said that it’s currently stated the fetus can feel pain at around 23 or 24 weeks, but science is pushing that up.
“I think it might be as early as five months at this point,” Kinskey said, adding, “There’s a lot of research that shows the neuropathway connections are made such as the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.”
While the date of viability can be estimated, Kinskey said it will probably have to rest on a case-by-case basis of when it actually begins, as there’s no definitive date in the bill for viability.
“That is the problem with the way the Supreme Court rules on these things; they’ve left it as very uncertain, as to just medical science,” Kinskey said. “So that leaves it as an open question as whether that’s 20 weeks, the threshold for pain, or 23 weeks, the threshold for viability.”
The second part of the bill will ban selling, transferring or distributing of any tissue or cells from an aborted fetus for experimentation. The penalty is a felony charge, a fine no less than $10,000 and up to 14 years imprisonment. Rep. Mark Jennings said this came into the conversation after the allegations made toward Planned Parenthood.
“It makes it much, much tighter as far as putting in a penalty that no tissue or cells from a child are going to be sold,” Jennings said. “We find that reprehensible that people would, irregardless of what their position is, that they would be selling fetal tissue.”
Both Jennings and Kinskey said that since they don’t know if it’s occurring in Wyoming, the bill is to tighten up that loose end.
“I’m not alleging anybody’s doing anything,” Kinskey said. “What I’m saying is we just don’t buy and sell body parts in America; that’s not the way we work. And that includes aborted fetuses.”
Kinskey also said that this would not include prohibiting the harvesting of stem cells from the umbilical cord blood with the consent of the parent, because it is not part of the fetus.
The other bill that is going before the legislature this session dealing with abortion is House Bill 0132, which Jennings said is a cleanup bill to enforce the reporting of abortions by doctors. He said that even though it is law to report abortions, it has come to their attention that because there’s been no penalty, the law isn’t being followed.
The bill says that reporting of this information will not include the name, address or any other identifier of the woman, including social security number or driver’s license number. “The form shall contain a unique medical record identifying number to enable matching the report to the pregnant woman’s medical records,” the bill states. The reports will not be public.
Reports must be submitted within 20 days after the abortion, and if a physician fails to submit by 50 days after, he or she can be charged a late fee of $1,000 for each addition 30 days overdue. Furthermore, intentional or reckless falsification or failure to report is a misdemeanor. The doctor can be imprisoned for up to one year and be charged a fine up to $1,000.
Both bills have been introduced and assigned to the Labor Committee. They are not yet on the legislative schedule.