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La. House committee advances multiple antiabortion-rights measures

The Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday advanced three antiabortion-rights bills, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Deslatte, AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/20).

Bill banning medically proven method of abortion

One of the bills (HB 1081) advanced by the committee would ban a medically proven method of abortion. The measure now heads to the full state House (Litten, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4/20).

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

Physicians who violate the ban could face a fine and up to two years in prison (HB 1081 text, accessed 4/21).

Comments

According to the Times-Picayune, opponents of the bill said it would limit women's access to safe, legal abortion care (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4/20).

Ellie Schilling, an abortion-rights supporter and attorney, said the bill likely would be struck down as unconstitutional if it became law and was challenged in court (WWL, 4/20). According to the AP/Bee, similar bans in other states have been blocked by the courts, including a ban (SB 95) in Kansas and another (HB 1721) in Oklahoma (AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/20).

Schilling said, "This [bill] would impose an undue burden on a woman seeking a second trimester abortion." She added that the measure includes confusing language, which would make it "difficult for physicians to interpret and could lead to even more uncertainty" (WWL, 4/20).

Bill targeting Planned Parenthood

The committee on Wednesday also approved a bill (HB 606) that would defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers in the state. The measure now heads to the full state House.

Background

Former Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) administration ordered the state to strip Planned Parenthood clinics in the state of Medicaid funding following the release of misleading videos targeting the organization's fetal tissue donation program (AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/20). Multiple state investigations have cleared the organization of any wrongdoing (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/20).

A federal judge blocked Louisiana's effort and ordered the state to continue funding cancer screenings, gynecology exams and other health services at Planned Parenthood clinics in the state. According to the AP/Bee, several other states that also have tried to end funding for abortion providers are facing similar legal challenges.

Separately, the Obama administration earlier this week issued a nationwide warning to states that efforts to cut abortion providers out of Medicaid could violate federal law.

Defunding bill details

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Frank Hoffmann (R), would ban public funding for any organization in the state that provides abortion care. It includes exceptions for cases of rape, incest, life endangerment or "medically futile" pregnancies.

Opponents of the bill cited the Obama administration's warning. They explained that the measure would end funding that Planned Parenthood uses to provide necessary medical services to low-income state residents.

Raegan Carter, an official with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, spoke out against the measure, saying, "With all due respect, the state of Louisiana cannot determine whether Planned Parenthood receives Medicaid funding."

Bill to ban abortions based on fetal disability diagnosis

The state House committee also passed a third bill (HB 1019) that aims to limit access to abortion care in the state.

Specifically, the bill would ban abortion care sought because of a fetal anomaly or disability diagnoses (AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/20).