Louisiana Panel, Jindal Back Bill to Stop Coerced Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 5, 2011   |   12:26PM   |   Baton Rouge, LA

A Louisiana state House committee and Governor Bobby Jindal are both on board with legislation designed to prevent women from being pressured into having an abortion they may not otherwise want.

The House Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday approved an alternative version of HB 586 sponsored by Rep. Frank Hoffmann, a Republican from West Monroe. The bill, which makes it so signs may be posted at abortion centers across the state advising women of alternatives to abortion and that they have the right to refuse an abortion, now heads to the full state House.

The amended bill makes it so the signs, which should measure no smaller than 16 inches by 20 inches, be posted in the waiting area of abortion centers in Louisiana. The signs inform women that they can’t be forced to abort against their will, the father is liable for support, adoptive parents may pay costs of prenatal care and childbirth, and there are many public and private resources to help during and after pregnancy.

The legislation also creates a Department of Health and Hospitals website and mobile/smartphone platform to deliver info about public and private pregnancy resources, free ultrasound, abortion health risks, the development of the unborn child, etc. In addition to being posted on the sign, the web address must be given by phone or email at the initial contact seeking an appointment.

Hoffmann told the committee, “I’m proud to serve as a pro-life legislator in a pro-life state led by a pro-life governor.”

Benjamin Clapper, the director of Louisiana Right to Life, accompanied Hoffmann to the committee hearing and worked to put the legislation together.

“Did you know 64% of women who choose abortion felt coerced or pressure to make that decision, often against their will?” he told LifeNews.com. “HB 586 is a product of many months of planning, along with in-depth discussions with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) and Secretary Bruce Greenstein.  We are proud to be a prime sponsor of this legislation.”

“Women deserve love and commitment. But a tragic consequence of Roe is that it enables men to use women and then subtly or overtly coerce abortion. Often it is an employer, friend or parent who pressures a woman to abort,” Clapper explained. “We believe this legislation modernizes Louisiana’s Women’s Right to Know Law and helps reach women considering abortion with the essential information and the numerous agencies and resources available to assist them both before and after birth.”

Governor Bobby Jindal has announced his support of the legislation as has the Bioethics Defense Fund, whose attorney Dorinda Bordlee of Metairie worked on the legislation.

During the committee hearing, Bruce Greenstein, secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals, said the agency would pay for the signs and distribute them because, as the Daily World reported him saying, “more educational information is better. Our goal is to protect the health and safety of all residents. This will help protect women in the state by assuring that they understand their rights.”

“No one can force a woman to have an abortion, not even a young woman’s parents,” he said.

But Julie Mickelberry of Planned Parenthood opposed the bill against coerced abortions. Rep. Robert Johnson, a Democrat, told her, “I don’t see any objection to a sign. It’s just telling your rights.”

The state health department indicates 8,867 abortions were reported in 2010.

ACTION: Contact lawmakers to support the bill at https://www.legis.state.la.us