Louisiana House Backs Signs to Help Stop Coerced Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 12, 2011   |   5:25PM   |   Baton Rouge, LA

The Louisiana state House signed off on legislation today designed to prevent women from being pressured into having an abortion they may not otherwise want.

The House supported HB 586, sponsored by Rep. Frank Hoffmann, a Republican from West Monroe, 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.

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.

The House approved the measure 93-0 today and almost three-fourths of the members of the House have signed on a co-sponsors.

“This legislation enhances the current Louisiana women’s right-to-know law,” said Hoffman, according to an AP report.

Hoffman agreed to remove a stipulation that the sign talk about abortion’s link to breast cancer, but he maintained that scientific data is sufficient to show that link exists.

Vicki Saporta, the president of the National Abortion Federation, a trade group of abortion businesses, told AP she opposes the bill and claimed it “is trying to dissuade women from choosing abortion, and that is not the state’s responsibility.”

Hoffman also said his bill would help medical professionals who don’t want to be involved in abortions by amending state law to increase the conscience clause. He said the provision protects pro-life medical providers and students from discrimination.

“They’re under increasing threats by a secular culture that often expects them to violate their conscience by participating in abortion or other practices that destroy human life,” he said.

Benjamin Clapper, the director of Louisiana Right to Life, accompanied Hoffmann to the committee hearing and worked to put the legislation together with Dordinda Bordlee, a prominent pro-life attorney

“Did you know 64% of women who choose abortion felt coerced or pressure to make that decision, often against their will?” Bordlee 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,” Bordlee 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, Bodlee’s group.

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