The Louisiana State Legislature passed two bills restricting abortions last week – one that prohibits abortions in the state after 20 weeks and one that requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound 24 hours before the procedure. The 20 week restriction, based on the unsupported premise that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks, was passed unanimously in the State House of Representatives and passed in a 38-1 vote in the Senate. Doctors who violate the restrictions could be sentenced to up to 2 years in prison. The Louisiana Senate also voted 33-3 to change the state’s ultrasound requirement from a 2 hour mandated waiting period to a 24 hour waiting period. Women will be asked if they want to see the sonogram picture and hear the fetal heartbeat. Those that do not want to hear the heartbeat must sign a form to opt-out.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Public Affairs Director Julie Mickelberry criticized the bill, saying, “Today, legislators ignored the health care needs of Louisiana women. Doctors, not politicians, should decide what is in the best interest of their patients.”
Both bills now go to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to be signed into law or vetoed. Jindal is expected to sign both measures. If the governor does sign the law, Louisiana will be the ninth state to restrict abortions after 20 weeks, along with Nebraska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizona, and Georgia. According to the Guttmacher Institute (PDF), 20 states have provisions that regulate ultrasounds by abortion providers.
Reuters 6/1/12; Times-Picayune 6/1/12, 5/30/12; Guttmacher State Policies in Brief 6/1/12; AP 5/31/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/2/12