by Steven Ertelt
April 26, 2006
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — The Louisiana state Senate has approved a measure that would ban virtually all abortions in the state. The measure only allows abortions in cases of rape or incest and senators rejected an amendment to add rape and incest exceptions to the measure, which now heads to the House.
Sen. Ben Nevers, a Democrat who is the sponsor, said he opposed adding any exceptions to the measure, saying his heart goes out to victims of rape but an abortion compounds the problem.
"Lord knows I would never want to hurt a mother, in any way. Lord knows I would never want to hurt a victim of rape or incest," he said. "A crime committed by a rapist should not result in the death of an unborn child."
But Sen. Joel Chaisson, also a Democrat, warned that he didn’t think the state House would approve the measure if the exceptions were not added, according to an AP report.
"Unless there’s a rape and incest exception, this law may never go into effect," he said.
Chaisson’s amendment to add the exceptions failed on a 20-17 vote and then lawmakers approved the abortion ban 31-6.
Dorinda Bordlee, a longtime pro-life Louisiana attorney and vice president of the Bioethics Defense Fund, told LifeNews.com she was pleased with the vote.
"After 33 years of abortion on demand, this vote reflects the growing understanding that abortion is violence against women, and that a rape exception would allow the rapist to victimize the woman twice in addition to ending an innocent life," she said.
Julie Mickleberry, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta, said abortion advocates would 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."
Nevers drew additional support for his measure by changing it to prevent the state from having to pay for expensive attorney fees to pro-abortion lawyers if abortion advocates challenge the measure in court and prevail. He put in a trigger mechanism saying the abortion ban would only take effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
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 filed an abortion ban in the House that has rape and incest exceptions but it has not come up for a vote.
Nevers 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.
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.
Related web sites:
Louisiana state legislature – https://legis.state.la.us