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La. lawmakers send amended abortion ban, fetal tissue restrictions to gov.

The Louisiana Senate voted to advance an abortion ban (HB 1019) after first approving an amendment (SFA 4038) that adds an extremely narrow exception to the restriction, the AP/New Orleans Advocate reports (Deslatte, AP/New Orleans Advocate, 6/6).

The bill now advances to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) (HB 1019 information page, accessed 6/7).

Bill details

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Rick Edmonds (R), would ban abortion care sought because of fetal anomaly or disability diagnosis. It 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, 6/3). Providers who violate the ban could face up to two years imprisonment, as well as malpractice claims and charges of wrongful death (AP/New Orleans Advocate, 6/6).

Under the amendment, the ban would apply only to abortion care sought at 20 or more weeks of pregnancy, with an exception only when necessary to save the life of the woman. According to the AP/New Orleans Advocate, Louisiana already bans abortion care at 20 weeks. However, the existing 20-week ban includes exceptions to save the life of the woman and to avert the "serious risk" of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.

Edmonds said the bill also includes counseling requirements that aim to discourage a woman from seeking abortion care because of fetal anomalies (AP/New Orleans Advocate, 6/6).

Last month, the bill stalled in the state Senate health care committee after lawmakers opted not to vote on the measure 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/3).

Lawmakers send fetal tissue restrictions to gov.

In related news, both chambers of the Louisiana Legislature on Monday unanimously approved a bill (HB 815) that would impose new restrictions on the handling and donation of fetal tissue, the AP/New Orleans Advocate reports. The bill now advances to the governor.

HB 815, sponsored by state Rep. Julie Stokes (R), would require fetal tissue resulting from abortion to be buried or cremated. The bill would prohibit the donation, sale or purchase of fetal tissue (AP/New Orleans Advocate, 6/6). Prior to approving the measure, lawmakers removed provisions involving criminal liability for violating the restrictions (Richards, Manship School News Service/WWL, 6/7).

The sale of fetal tissue is already banned under federal law (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/6). Moreover, Edwards late last month signed a separate law (Act 196), sponsored by state Sen. Ryan Gatti (R), that will criminalize the sale and transfer of fetal tissue in the state (Manship School News Service/WWL, 6/7).

Those who violate Act 196 could face between 10 and 50 years in prison. The law will not apply to the donation of fetal tissue for stem cell research or umbilical cord blood (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/4). It also will not apply to fetal tissue related to miscarriage or stillbirth (Act 196 text, accessed 6/7). The law is scheduled to take effect Aug. 1 (SB 33 information page, accessed 6/7).