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Fallin to Sign Fetal Pain, Insurance Abortion Bills (Apr 20, 2011)

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin plans to sign two bills intended to further restrict abortion in Oklahoma.

Fallin has scheduled a public bill signing on Wednesday to sign a bill under which doctors could face felony charges for performing abortions after a woman reaches 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill is called the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" and is based on the premise that a fetus can experience pain after 20 weeks.

It includes an exemption for abortions performed when the life of the mother is at risk or if there is a risk of physical impairment of a "major bodily function."

A review of the medical evidence from 2005 shows that a fetus does not have the neurological structures necessary to feel pain until 23-to-30 weeks of gestational age. A British medical study published in 2010 found that a fetus cannot feel pain until 24 weeks.

The second bill would prohibit health insurance plans in Oklahoma offered under the new federal health care law from offering coverage for elective abortions.

--AP and Staff Reports

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