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La. Senate advances antiabortion-rights bill as another stalls in committee

The Louisiana Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to an antiabortion-rights bill (HB 1081), while another measure (HB 1019) stalled over concerns of its constitutionality, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Ban on medically proven method of abortion

The state Senate voted 36-2 to give final approval to HB 1081, which would ban a medically proven method of abortion (Deslatte, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/17).

Under the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Johnson (R), the method would be prohibited unless used to prevent a "serious health risk" to the pregnant woman.

A physician who violates the measure could face a $1,000 fine per incident, lose his or her medical license and/or receive up to two years in prison. Further, a woman who obtained such an abortion and certain other individuals could seek civil damages from the physician (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/2).

The measure now heads to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D). Edwards' spokesperson Richard Carbo said the governor intends to sign the ban. According to the AP/Bee, Edwards also indicated he would sign a 72-hour mandatory delay bill (HB 386) and a bill (HB 488) targeting abortion providers. If HB 1081 is enacted, it would make Louisiana the sixth state to implement such a ban (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/17).

Ellie Schilling, an abortion-rights supporter and attorney, said earlier this month that the measure likely would be struck down as unconstitutional if enacted and challenged in court. Similar bans in other states have been blocked by the courts, including one (SB 95) in Kansas and another (HB 1721) in Oklahoma (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/2).

Ban on abortion sought because of a fetal disability diagnosis

On Tuesday, the state Senate health care committee opted not to vote on HB 1019, a bill that would ban abortion care sought because of a fetal anomaly or disability diagnosis (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/17).

The bill includes a limited exception in instances when the fetus "has a profound and irremediable congenital or chromosomal anomaly that is incompatible with sustaining life after birth" (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/2).

According to the AP/Bee, the committee stalled on the legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Rick Edmonds (R), over concerns that it might be struck down as unconstitutional. Committee members said the language could violate court precedent recognizing a woman's right to abortion and voiced concerns about how the bill defined a genetic anomaly.

Edmonds said he would try to rework the language in the bill and submit it at a committee hearing next week. However, according to the AP/Bee, committee members expressed uncertainty as to whether an acceptable compromise could be reached (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/17).