by Steven Ertelt
April 19, 2006
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — A Louisiana lawmaker says he doesn’t plan to add rape or incest exceptions to his bill that would ban virtually all abortions in the state. Senator Ben Nevers is sponsoring legislation that would prohibit all abortions in the state except for those necessary to prevent the death of the mother.
Nevers, a Democrat, said he introduced the bill because he thinks the two new justices on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
A fifth vote would still be needed, as the court presumably still has a 5-4 majority in favor of abortion.
The Louisiana Senate Committee on Health and Welfare is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill today.
Pro-life advocates are not sure how the legislature will treat the measure, SB 33, and whether it will survive without amendments added to it.
"I have no feel for it at all," said Dorinda Bordlee, executive director of the Bioethics Defense Fund, told the New Orleans Times Picayune. "This Legislature on the abortion issue is a big question mark."
Nevers said he may have to accept exceptions in order to get the bill out of committee.
Meanwhile, Julie Mickleberry, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta, told the newspaper abortion advocates would turn out in force to oppose the legislation.
"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.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco has not yet commented on the bill.
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."
Bordlee is concerned that the abortion ban will get to the Supreme Court only to be declared unconstitutional. She said abortion bans won’t have success until at least one more pro-life vote is on the high court.
She is also concerned the state could end up paying for attorney fees for pro-abortion lawyers ready to take abortion bans to court.
"I’m not interested in using Louisiana tax dollars to fund abortion lawyers," Bordlee said.
The legislation, which follows an abortion ban South Dakota lawmakers approved, would fine anyone who performs an abortion from $10,000 to $100,000. Abortion practitioners would be jailed from one to 10 years.
Rep. Tim Burns, a Republican, has introduced a similar bill but it would also include exceptions for rape and incest as long as the abortion is performed within 13 weeks of conception. It would essentially prohibit late-term abortions in such cases.
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.