Today, the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously voted to advance a bill banning all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is frequently around 6 weeks, before many people know they are pregnant. It now goes to the full state House floor for a vote.
“Low-income women, women of color, rural women, and women who are abused or assaulted will suffer the brunt of this ban,” testified Amy Irwin, executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund. “It will force women seeking abortion services back into dangerous, desperate situations, reviving the public health crisis that existed before Roe v. Wade.”
Also testifying today in favor of the abortion ban was Jennifer McCoy, a woman who was convicted of conspiring to bomb two abortion clinics in 1996 and who has close ties to the man who assassinated abortion provider George Tiller in 2009.
“It is both telling and shameful that lawmakers invited a convicted conspiring clinic arsonist and unapologetic advocate for the justifiable murder of abortion providers to speak on behalf of this bill,” said duVergne Gaines, director of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project. “McCoy employed domestic terror to further her political goal, threatening the lives of countless innocent people. This is the person Louisiana lawmakers are now looking to for guidance? It speaks volumes about their position on ‘life’.”
According to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s 2018 National Clinic Violence Survey, almost a quarter of U.S. abortion clinics experienced the most severe types of threats and violence in the first half of 2018, including death threats, stalking, and blocking clinic access.
Already this year, the Supreme Court has upheld a temporary hold on a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The decision however was only 5-4, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing a dissent in which he said he saw no undue burden placed on doctors.
This is only the latest of what has been a wave of state-level anti-abortion legislation in the first half of 2019. Kentucky, Mississippi, Iowa, Ohio, and Georgia have all recently approved 6-week bans. Yesterday, the Alabama Senate passed a bill that would make performing abortion a felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison, with almost no exceptions. These bills are part of a larger nationwide strategy to pass anti-abortion legislation aimed at overturning Roe v. Wade.
Media Resources: US News 4/30/19; Star Tribune 5/15/19; Ms. Magazine 6/14/10; Feminist Majority Foundation 1/16/19; Feminist Newswire 2/8/19