by Steven Ertelt
June 1, 2006
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — The Louisiana state House has approved a ban on most abortions that is different from a South Dakota one in that it will only go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortion.
On an 85-17 vote, the House backed the measure, which would prohibit all abortions except those necessary to save the woman’s life or to prevent permanent and major health problems. As a result, almost all abortions in the state would be prohibited if Roe is reversed.
Passage of the bill was never a question but the most contentious issue during debate on the House floor was whether or not to add exceptions for rape and incest. Amendments sponsored by Rep. Charlie Dewitt (D) to add those exceptions failed 67-36.
Dorinda Bordlee, a longtime pro-life Louisiana attorney and vice president of the Bioethics Defense Fund, told LifeNews.com that states should follow Louisiana’s lead and approve abortions bans in advance of a possible high court decision to overturn Roe.
"States who follow this model will have already done the heavy lifting and built up the public education on how abortion destroys both women and children — thus ushering in the public will to reverse Roe," she said.
Another amendment sponsored by pro-abortion Rep. Monica Walker (D) to allow sales of the morning after pill over the counter also failed 80-22.
Under the bill, abortion practitioners found guilty of doing abortions would receive up to 10 years in prison and pay a $100,000 fine.
The measure now heads to the state Senate, which is also expected to sign off on the changes the House made to the measure.
When it was in the Senate, an amendment to add the exceptions failed on a 20-17 vote and then Senate lawmakers approved the abortion ban 31-6, also a veto-proof margin.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat who opposes abortion, has not said whether she would sign the bill. However, the House approved the bill on a bipartisan veto-proof margin.
Denise Bottcher, a representative of the governor, told the New Orleans newspaper that Blanco opposes abortion "except in extreme cases, to save the life of the mother and in cases of rape and incest. She will be watching this bill closely."
Julie Mickleberry, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta, said her group opposes the bill.
"It is a question of fundamental rights to privacy," she said. Though Planned Parenthood came under fire for exploiting the Hurricane Katrina tragedy to raise funds, Mickleberry said now is "not an appropriate time" for the legislature to be debating abortion.
Lawmakers approved an abortion ban in 1991 that did have rape and incest exceptions in it and was eventually vetoed by then Gov. Buddy Roemer. Federal courts declared it unconstitutional in 1992.
The measure is SB 33, the Human Life Protection Act.
Related web sites:
Louisiana state legislature – http://legis.state.la.us