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Lynch vetoes abortion bill

Governor says it could harm women

Gov. John Lynch yesterday vetoed a bill banning partial-birth abortions, one of the few abortion-related bills that passed the Legislature this year.

In a written statement, Lynch said he does not favor the procedure but believes a 2003 federal law already sufficiently restricts its use. Lynch said he believes the additional restrictions in the bill passed by the Legislature would jeopardize the life of a mother in emergencies.

While both the federal law and newly passed state bill bar the use of so-called partial-birth abortions except to save the life of a mother, the state's version goes further, Lynch said.

The Legislature's bill would require that a qualified physician examine the pregnant woman and determine whether she suffered from a life-threatening condition. That physician would then have to find a second physician with whom he shared no legal or financial ties to confirm his diagnosis.

Only then could the emergency abortion be performed.

'Under (this bill), a physician in a rural hospital that admitted a pregnant woman with a life-threatening condition would be prohibited from proceeding with a procedure permitted by federal law, unless the physician identified another physician who was unaffiliated and who could determine and document her life-threatening condition,' Lynch said. 'The lapse of time in finding that second physician and obtaining the needed referral could be significant and could result in the death of the pregnant woman.'

The bill, introduced by Rep. Ross Terrio, a Manchester Republican, passed the House in March, 224-110. It passed the Senate in April, 18-5. If those margins stand, there are enough votes to override the governor's veto, which requires a two-thirds majority.

The House is scheduled to reconvene June 27 to take up vetoed bills.

This bill was one of only three abortion-related bills to pass both chambers this year. The Legislature also eliminated weekend court hearings for minor girls seeking a judge's permission for an abortion. Lawmakers also passed a bill creating a study for collecting abortion statistics.

Several other abortion and contraception bills failed, including a 24-hour wait for women seeking an abortion; a ban on abortions after 20 weeks; and an exemption for employers who did not want to include birth control in their health insurance plans.

Also sidelined was a bill that would have prohibited public money for abortions.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)