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Gov. Judd Gregg vetoed an abortion rights bill Tuesday within hours of it reaching his desk, saying it would have been the most liberal abortion law in the nation.

The bill would have allowed unrestricted abortions until the fetus could live outside the womb and after that to protect the life or health of a woman or if the fetus has a life-threatening physical or congenital abnormality.``This bill authorizes abortion for convenience, sex selection, as a form of birth control and with or without parental notification or consent in the case of a minor,' the Republican governor said in his veto message to the Legislature.

Gregg said government had an obligation to protect life, which he said begins at conception.

Abortion rights advocates had argued that the bill essentially legalized current practice. They said 91 percent of all abortions in the country are done in the first 12 weeks and that only 0.01 percent are done after 24 weeks.

House leadership has not set a date to consider overriding the veto. Two earlier votes on versions of the bill fell about 25 votes shy of the two-thirds margin that would be needed for override. Bill supporters also would need to find two more votes in the Senate.


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