On Wednesday (May 16) a Louisiana bill that would ban abortions at the sixth week of pregnancy moved one step closer to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk.
The Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee advanced the so-called “heartbeat bill” without objection. The next step is a debate on the Louisiana House floor.
Senate Bill 184 is sponsored by Democratic state Sen. John Milkovich, and Gov. Edwards has already indicated that he intends to sign the bill should it pass the House. “We believe children are a gift from God,” Milkovich said.
Anti-abortion measures have been sweeping across the southern states, as conservatives, emboldened by the appointment of two conservative justices to the Supreme Court, feel they now have a shot at overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Bans on abortion have already been approved in Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, and Alabama.
Louisiana’s bill is contingent on a current legal case in Mississippi, challenging that state’s abortion ban. Should a federal appeals court uphold the Mississippi law, Louisiana’s abortion ban would be allowed to take effect.
Opponents of the bill say that it is unconstitutional, and would put the health of women at risk. “Louisianans need more health care, free of harassment, not more political posturing,” Amy Irvin, executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund told AP News.
SB184 does include exceptions to prevent a pregnant woman’s death or “a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” or if the pregnancy is determined to be “medically futile.” However, it does not include exceptions for cases of incest or when a woman is raped.
Any doctor who violates the abortion ban, should it be passed, would face up to two years in prison and the revocation of their medical license.
Protestors from the New Orleans Abortion Fund, Women with a Vision, and the New Orleans People’s Assembly staged a “die-in” at the Lousiana State Capitol on Wednesday to protest this and two other pieces of anti-abortion legislation that are being advanced.
House Bill 133, brought by Republican state Rep Frank Hoffman, redefines the definition of abortion to include “any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to terminate the clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman.” This means that medication used to cause an abortion, and even potentially herbal supplements used to cause an abortion would be treated the same as a surgical abortion under the law.
House Bill 484 from Republican Rep. Raymond Crews lengthens the amount of time that abortion providers must keep patient records, and imposes heavy penalties for violations.
Both measures passed the Louisiana State House of Representatives and are backed by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee without objection.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.