Following the lead of Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, and Mississippi, Louisiana becomes the next state the pass a restrictive fetal heartbeat bill that will ban abortion in almost all cases. As Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a pro-life Democrat, prepares to sign the bill into law, learn more about how it will infringe on the healthcare rights of Louisianan women and girls, the minimal exceptions to the law, and what comes next:
1. There are limited exceptions in the bill for legal abortion. The Louisiana House of Representatives, which passed the bill 79-23, rejected an amendment that would have made an exception to the bill for women who were the victims of rape or incest. The bill also stipulates that, “prior to any abortion being performed an ultrasound is required to determine whether or not a fetal heartbeat is present, and the results of the ultrasound shall be included in the pregnant woman’s medical records.” A fetal heartbeat is typically detected around six weeks, when many women do not know yet that they are pregnant. Unlike bills recently passed in Alabama and Georgia, women who have abortions and doctors who perform abortions will not face any jail time. Abortion providers could have their licenses suspended or lose their licenses if it’s found that they administered the procedure illegally, however.
2. Amendments to the bill clarify that medically necessary terminations are not classified as abortions. Terminations are allowed under the law if they are necessary to save the life of the woman, if it’s shown that continuing the pregnancy presents “a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” or if the pregnancy is deemed “medically futile.” These medically necessary procedures will not be categorized as abortions.
— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) May 29, 2019
3. Louisiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards has vowed to sign the bill into law. In a statement, Edwards said that he “ran for governor as a pro-life candidate after serving as a pro-life legislator for eight years. I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue. But it is also my sincere belief that being pro-life means more than just being pro-birth.” He asked the bipartisan legislators that voted for the bill to continue “to build a better Louisiana that cares for the least among us.” You can read Edwards’ full statement in the tweet above.
4. The law will only take effect if a similar bill in Mississippi is held up in federal court. Mississippi passed a fetal heartbeat bill on May 28 with language similar to Louisiana’s. According to the text of Louisiana’s bill, it will only become law if Mississippi’s is held up in a federal appeals court. A federal judge temporarily blocked Mississippi’s bill after the state’s Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed it into law. Judge Carlton Reeves’ block stops the law from taking effect on July 1. He is the same judge who blocked the state’s 15-week abortion ban in 2018. Passing the 8-week ban after he blocked the previous one “sure smacks of defiance to this court,” Reeves said in his ruling.
5. Louisiana is also considering another restrictive abortion bill. Louisiana is considering asking voters to add a constitutional amendment that “stipulates that no provision of the constitution protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” In other words, it would declare that Louisiana doesn’t protect abortion rights.