Louisiana’s pro-life, Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards has signed two new bills into law that take significant steps toward strengthening that state’s pro-life culture, especially so if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in its upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Senate Bill 342 (SB 342), the Reaffirmation of the Human Life Protection Act, bolsters the state’s abortion “trigger law” that bans all abortions (with certain exceptions) when the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade or a human life amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution. It also increases criminal penalties for those abortionists who violate its terms. It does not impose penalties on women receiving an illegal abortion.
The new law contains exceptions for abortions performed to save the life of the mother or in cases of medical futility and ectopic pregnancies. “Medical futility” exists when a preborn baby has “a profound and irremediable congenital or chromosomal anomaly that is incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” Cases involving medical futility require the certification of two qualified physicians and the abortion must be performed in a licensed ambulatory surgical center or hospital.
The new law does not contain rape or incest exceptions, a fact that Gov. Edwards noted in his signing statement:
My position on abortion has been unwavering – I am pro-life and have never hidden from that fact. This does not belie my belief that there should be an exception to the prohibition on abortion for victims of rape and incest. However, vetoing Senate Bill 342 would not accomplish that end. In fact, vetoing Senate Bill 342 would leave fewer exceptions in place than if the bill becomes law and would further confuse whether pregnancy begins at fertilization or implantation. For these reasons, I have signed Senate Bill 342 into law.
SB 342 also increases the criminal penalties for those performing illegal abortions from a maximum of five years in prison to 10 years, and it increases fines from $5,000 to $50,000.
The governor also signed SB 388, the Mail-Order Abortion Prohibition Act, which, as its name suggests, bans the sale and importation of mail-order abortion pills into Louisiana. Although SB 342 bans chemical abortions in their entirety, that ban is dependent on the Supreme Court overturning Roe.
But if Roe remains in effect, a complete ban on chemical abortions would not be constitutionally permissible. That’s why SB 388 is necessary to protect women as much as legally possible given the restrictions on abortion that Roe imposes. The new law permits doctors to prescribe abortion pills and pharmacists can fill those prescriptions. However, the law bans the unsupervised online sale of chemical abortion pills into Louisiana.
In addition to praising the governor’s signature on SB 342, Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life, told LifeNews, “We also applaud Gov. Edwards for signing SB 388 into law to stop the dangerous unsupervised online sale of chemical abortion pills into Louisiana. Not only does SB 388 protect the lives of unborn babies, it also protects the health and safety of women who are purchasing chemical abortion pills without any medical exam or oversight.”
Louisiana is one of 13 states with abortion trigger laws.
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