La. Senate panel advances 15-week abortion ban

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Senate panel advanced a bill Tuesday that could put Louisiana on track to have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

The legislation by Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, would ban abortions after the 15-week mark. In committee, Milkovich described abortion as a "curse" and a "scourge."

Louisiana currently bars abortions 20 weeks after conception.

Proponents of the legislation argued that at the 15-week mark, a fetus can feel and move. "You'll see them smile, you'll see them frown," said Dr. Wayne Gravois.

Back in March, Mississippi's governor signed a similar law banning abortions at 15 weeks. Almost immediately, the law was blocked by a federal judge.

Those against the legislation warned that not only is it harmful to women's right, but it could also cost the state millions at a time Louisiana is short on cash.

"It is irresponsible policymakers to pass anti-choice legislation that could result in costly litigation," said Amy Irvin with the New Orleans Abortion Fund.

Milkovich fired back, saying it would be worth the cost. "I believe that spending several million dollars to prevent our babies from being killed in the abortion mills is a worthwhile expenditure of our money," he said.

The debate quickly became tied up in a question over unintended consequences. Some lawmakers worried that if Roe v. Wade was ever overturned, this bill would prevent Louisiana from falling back on an old law banning abortions altogether.

Despite the concerns and the chance of Louisiana facing its own lawsuits, the panel voted to send the bill to the Senate floor with the promise of working on the language before the next vote.

"I don't think we should refrain from doing the right thing today because we believe someone else may do the wrong thing tomorrow," Milkovich said.

The governor has said he would be inclined to sign the bill if it lands on his desk, depending on what the final language looks like.

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