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Criminal penalties removed from abortion bill

CONCORD - A House committee has voted to strip criminal penalties from a controversial bill that would impose a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion.

The House approved House Bill 1659 last week but then reversed course and sent the bill to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee out of concern for the severity of the penalties under the bill.

The penalty for violating the 24-hour waiting period provisions would have been a Class A felony, which carries a three- to seven-year prison sentence.

After a contentious committee meeting Tuesday, the panel voted 14-1 to strip criminal penalties under the bill, making violation of the bill's provisions punishable only as civil infractions. The committee then voted 8-7 that the bill ought to pass with the amendment.

The House is expected to vote again on the bill next week.

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