Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, on Thursday, signed into law a key pro-life bill that allows women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby before considering an abortion. Ultrasounds have proven effective in helping mothers weighing a possible abortion choose life for their baby.
The Louisiana legislature passed SB 708, the Hear the Heartbeat Act, authored by Senator Sharon Weston Broome, a pro-life Democrat. Representative Valarie Hodges, a pro-life Republican, carried the bill in the House, which approved it on a 95-1 vote.
Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life, said the following upon House passage: “We are thrilled that the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed SB 708. Abortion facilities exist to stop the beating of an unborn child’s heart. The Hear the Heartbeat Act gives an otherwise voiceless child a voice through the playing of their heartbeat.”
Clapper said SB 708, an LARTL flagship piece of legislation drafted by the Bioethics Defense Fund, will require abortion facilities to make the unborn child’s heartbeat audible for the woman at least 24 hours prior to an abortion (unless she requests and signs an opt-out form). In addition, SB 708 improves the “Ultrasound Before Abortion” law by requiring abortion facilities to place the ultrasound screen in view of the woman (the woman then has the choice whether to view the ultrasound images of the unborn child).
“With the heartbeat and ultrasound provisions in the Hear the Heartbeat Act soon becoming law, women will be empowered with more medical knowledge regarding their pregnancies within abortion facilities that have a financial interest in squelching this information,” he added. “We commend Senator Broome, Representative Hodges, and the House for their action on this important piece of legislation. We look forward to Governor Jindal signing SB 708 into law and lives being saved in our great state.”
The bill ensures that abortionists display an ultrasound image of the unborn child for the mother to view before an abortion decision. Abortionists are further required to allow mothers to hear the child’s heartbeat, and provide information about the development of the unborn baby.
“In practice, an ultrasound law that does not ensure that the ultrasound is displayed can become almost meaningless because virtually every abortion facility will slip a waiver form into the stack of papers mothers are asked to sign,”said Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., director of state legislation for National Right to Life. “This legislation would protect women considering abortion from being deprived of the full information they should have before making such life changing decisions by such practice.”
The Louisiana bill is based on a Texas law which was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Added Balch, “We commend Senate President Pro Tem Sharon Weston Broome and the work of Louisiana Right to Life for their hard work in ensuring that the abortionist must display the ultrasound image of the unborn child for the mother. Today, their tireless efforts have paid off, and we are so pleased by this success.”
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The bill goes into law on August 1 and the restrictions go into effect 60 days later after the Department of Health and Hospitals publishes forms required by the law.
Jindal also signed SB 330 by Sen. Rick Ward. The pro-life bill creates a specific crime for performing an abortion in Louisiana if the abortionist is not licensed to practice medicine in Louisiana. The legislation also creates the crime of aggravated criminal abortion by dismemberment when the unborn child is dismembered in the course of a criminal abortion.
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