More Abortion Restrictions Advance
There was never any doubt which way members of the House Health & Welfare committee would vote on bills seeking to further restrict abortions.
“Today is actually ‘Pro Life Day’ in the Legislature,” committee chair Frank Hoffman began.
First up was Hoffman’s bill prohibiting any state or federal funds going to healthcare providers -- for exams, contraception or even pap smears -- if that provider does abortions.
“This will not allow you to have funding for those other things because you do the abortions,” Hoffman explained.
There were objections, such as the one from Angela Adkins, head of the N.O.W. chapter in Baton Rouge.
“This bill seeks to impose punitive measures on abortion providers, for the simple fact that they are offering a legal medical procedure,” Adkins stated.
And despite being told the state is prohibited from restricting distribution of federal funds in this way, the committee unanimously approved imposing the financial sanctions.
The next two measures impose criminal penalties. The first, by Baton Rouge Rep. Rick Edmonds – former vice president of the Louisiana Family Forum -- bans abortions for fetal genetic abnormalities.
“Tragically, more than 90% of these pregnancies end in abortion,” Edmonds said.
The next bill, by Bossier City Rep. Mike Johnson, bans the most common procedure used for second-trimester abortions.
“What do we want to stand for in Louisiana?,” Johnson urged. “Remember, the child is alive.”
If these bills become law, violators face fines and up to two years in prison.
Megan Snyder spoke on behalf of the OB-GYN clinic where she works.
“We physicians would not be able to provide care for women faced with a difficult and personal decision,” Snyder said. “Instead, this woman would have to accept a healthcare decision from a lawmaker, such as you, who does not have a medical license.”
Representative Larry Bagley of Stonewall was outraged.
“You shouldn’t be tellin’ us what our job is! We don’t tell you how to do your job!” Bagley shouted. “I don’t appreciate talkin’ down to us like we’re not doin’ the right thing, or we’re doin’ something political simply to get re-elected. My job’s to represent my people!”
Despite being advised that if passed these measures would end up in court and ultimately be ruled unconstitutional – a court battle the state can ill-afford right now -- the committee advanced them to the House floor.