Bills putting restrictions on abortion services advance at the La. Capitol

Bills putting restrictions on abortion services advance at the La. Capitol

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Several bills restricting access to abortion and abortion services in Louisiana inched closer to the governor's desk Wednesday at the State Capitol.

The Senate Committee on Health and Welfare moved HB 1081 and HB 606 without objection to the Senate floor.

HB 1081, which is sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, would ban dismemberment abortions on living fetuses. The bill already made it through the House with a vote of 83-0.

"The fetus in many cases dies just as a human adult or child would. It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb," Johnson told the committee in testimony that sometimes turned even more graphic. "We've described this as barbarism, not because that's an emotionally charged word, but because it's the best description for what this procedure is that you heard."

Doctors performing the procedure would face prison time or a fine of up to $1,000 for every abortion.

Opponents of the bill said it would insert legislators between doctors and their patients, thereby hampering a physician's ability to provide healthcare. Also, at a time of budgetary crisis in Louisiana, the opponents also made an economic argument after some lawmakers raised questions about the constitutionality of the bill.

"The Supreme Court has never upheld a law that would ban the most common second trimester procedure. So this bill certainly invites constitutional challenge which this state cannot afford," said Angela Adkins with NOW Louisiana.

The same committee also advanced HB 606, sponsored by Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe.

Under his bill, an organization would lose all public funding if they were to perform abortions – not just the money used to perform abortions.

"Do they want to continue to be funded under current levels and provide services to our citizens or do they want to become an abortion business? It's entirely up to them," said Deanna Wallace, legislative director for Louisiana Right for Life.

Representatives from Planned Parenthood protested the bill, saying it could reduce their ability to provide services like pap smears and HIV tests. While the measure currently would not cost Planned Parenthood funding, it could if the organization chose to begin providing abortion services at a facility still under construction in New Orleans.

"As we work to expand Medicaid in this state, we need more providers, not less," said Terrence Lockett with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

A spokesman for the governor said he would sign both HB 1081 and HB 606 in their current posture if they were to make it to his desk.

Over on the House floor, lawmakers gave final passage to HB 386, which extends the waiting period for abortions from 24 hours to 72 hours. It now heads to the governor's desk and he is also expected to sign it.

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