News Abortion

Jindal Signs “Pro-Information” Bill Today

Robin Marty

The Lousiana governor signs a bill requiring all clinics and websites to state that it is illegal to coerce a woman into an abortion, and that there are choices other than abortion.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal made a Baptist Church the scene of his special ceremony to sign new abortion restrictions into state law.

Via The News Star:

Governor Bobby Jindal is expected at First Baptist Church of West Monroe at 4:30 p.m. today to sign HB 636 – a Governor’s Package Bill – that requires women to be informed of their specific legal rights and options before they undergo an abortion procedure.

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The bill would require a website, as well as signs posted in abortion clinics, to inform women about abortion alternatives.

Other informational tidbits and alternatives include reminding her that a father has to pay child support and that if she continues her pregnancy a couple wanting to adopt her baby may offer to pay for her medical care.

News Abortion

Louisiana GOP Focuses on Anti-Choice Measures Amid Budget Crisis

Teddy Wilson

The proposals include a bill to ban the donation of fetal tissue and a measure to extended the state’s forced waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours for a pregnant person seeking abortion care.

Louisiana Republicans found the time to pre-file an assortment of anti-choice bills for the upcoming regular legislative session in the midst of a special legislative session focused on the state’s budget crisis.

The GOP proposals include a bill to ban the donation of fetal tissue and a measure to extended the state’s forced waiting period for a person seeking abortion care from 24 hours to 72 hours.

State lawmakers have until Wednesday at 6 p.m. to determine a solution for the state’s $940 million budget crisis. In the meantime, ten bills to restrict reproductive rights have been pre-filed ahead of the state’s regular legislative session, which begins March 14.

“Clearly legislators will continue to attack women’s access to abortion,” Amy Irvin, executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, told Rewire. “Given the emergency of the budget crisis and the potential impact on women and families in Louisiana, it is appalling that legislators have spent their time drafting bills to further limit access to safe and legal reproductive health care.”

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Among the pre-filed bills is HB 386, sponsored by Rep. Frank Hoffmann (R-West Monroe). State law in Louisiana already mandates that prior to terminating a pregnancy, a pregnant person must be given written materials published by the state, which list agencies offering “alternatives to abortion.” HB 386 extends the time a patient must wait between receiving those materials and getting abortion care from 24 hours to 72.

Louisiana would join five other states that force pregnant people to wait three days to receive abortion care. Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah all have 72-hour waiting periods.

“It is medically unnecessary to wait 72 hours, just as it is to wait 24 hours,” Irvin said.

Medical research charges that waiting periods are detrimental to a pregnant person’s health. At least one study concluded that any delay in a pregnant person terminating a pregnancy increases the health risk and cost of abortion care.

A pregnant person should be provided with abortion care as soon as possible once the decision is made to terminate a pregnancy, according to recommendations by the World Health Organization.

The bill includes an exception for pregnant people who certify in writing that they live “one hundred fifty miles or more” from the nearest licensed clinic that provides abortion services. They would be forced to comply with a 24-hour waiting period, not a 72-hour waiting period. 

Pregnant people would continue to be exempt from the mandatory waiting period and forced counseling in the case of a “medical emergency.” Under state law, a medical emergency is defined as when the “continuation of the pregnancy poses an immediate threat and grave risk to the life or permanent physical health of the pregnant woman.”

There have been four bills pre-filed that would regulate the handling of fetal tissue after an abortion procedure. These include HB 618, sponsored by Rep. Tom Willmott (R-Kenner); HB 672, sponsored by Rep. Paula Davis (R-Baton Rouge); HB 815, sponsored by Rep. Julie Stokes (R-Kenner); and SB 33, sponsored by Sen. Ryan Gatti (R-Bossier City).

Legislation targeting the use of fetal tissue has appeared in many state legislatures controlled by Republicans.

These bills stem from discredited allegations made by the anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which began publishing deceptively edited and surreptitiously recorded videos in 2015. CMP’s smear campaign charged that Planned Parenthood violated laws governing the sale of fetal tissue. GOP-led investigations nationwide have turned up no wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood, and CMP’s leaders have been indicted on felony charges related to the smear videos.

Former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) administration used the CMP videos as justification to strip Medicaid payments from Planned Parenthood health-care clinics in Louisiana. A federal court blocked Jindal’s efforts.

Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe), who in 2014 authored the state’s Texas-style admitting privileges law, has sponsored another piece of legislation that targets clinics providing abortion services. HB 488 would require physicians offering abortion care to be “board-certified or board-eligible” in obstetrics and gynecology or family medicine. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes requirements like these; it has noted that “clinicians in many medical specialties can provide safe abortion services.”

HB 73, sponsored by Rep. Jerome Richard (I-Thibodaux), would join a growing number of bills introduced in state legislatures designed to criminalize pregnant people. The bill would charge pregnant people with “second degree cruelty to juveniles” if they are found to have used a controlled substance while pregnant.

A handful of bills have been pre-filed that would ban organizations that provide abortion services or contract with abortion providers from receiving state funding. This includes HB 606, sponsored by Hoffmann; HB 889, sponsored by Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport); and SB 264, sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills, Jr (R-St. Martinville).

Irvin called the filing of so many anti-choice bills a “race to the bottom,” especially in light of the Supreme Court blocking the state from enforcing a law that would leave the state with only one abortion provider. A federal district court judge has blocked efforts by Louisiana GOP legislators to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood health-care facilities.

The anti-choice bills have been referred to various house and senate committees, were they await further action. Republicans hold a 25-14 advantage in the state senate and a 61-42 majority in the house. 

News Politics

Bobby Jindal, Governor of Country’s Most Anti-Abortion State, Ends GOP Presidential Bid

Ally Boguhn

Jindal’s departure from the race comes as the candidate has consistently struggled to pull in the funds and support needed to make a serious run for the White House.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, under whose leadership Louisiana consistently has been named the most anti-abortion state in the country, has dropped out of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Jindal on Tuesday appeared on Fox News’ Special Report to officially announce his decision to end his bid. “This is not my time,” Jindal explained during an interview with host Bret Baier. “I’ve come to the realization that this is not my time. So I’ve come here to announce that I am suspending my campaign for president of the United States.”

Jindal’s departure from the race comes as the candidate has consistently struggled to pull in the funds and support needed to make a serious run for the White House. At the start of October, Jindal’s campaign had just $261,000 left on hand. Polls consistently have found Jindal at the bottom of the pack, ranking around 1 percent for most of 2015, according to the Huffington Post’s Pollster, which aggregates polling from 212 nationwide polls.

The Louisiana governor rose to prominence due in part to a lift from his extreme anti-choice credentials. The anti-choice organization Americans United for Life (AUL) highlighted Louisiana as the most hostile state to abortion rights in the country six times in a row under his leadership—an award the candidate bragged about while on the campaign trail to boost his sway with conservatives.

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Jindal, speaking at the Right to Life Convention in August, criticized his Republican presidential rivals for not doing enough to speak out against abortion. “If we’re honest with ourselves, there are folks in the Republican Party who really don’t want to talk about life,” Jindal told the crowd. “You may have some folks who will come to this conference, folks even running for president who might wish for a few things and hope the press doesn’t write about it so they can get back to the issues they really want to talk about.”

Jindal’s reputation as an anti-choice extremist came after he and his administration spent years waging a war against reproductive health care in Louisiana. Jindal steadfastly refused throughout his tenure to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would have provided health care to an additional 242,150 uninsured low-income Louisiana residents.

In August, Jindal moved to cut funds from the program to Planned Parenthood clinics. Although the measure was ultimately blocked by a federal court, the move nonetheless endangered care for the 5,200 Louisiana Medicaid recipients who rely on the clinics to provide cancer screenings, contraceptives, and other reproductive health care.

Jindal’s anti-choice policy blitz has coincided with a rash of violence and vandalism at Louisiana abortion clinics.

As governor, Jindal signed into law a series of other anti-choice measures meant to further roll back access to abortion services in the state, including telemedicine bans, forced ultrasounds, mandated counseling and waiting periods prior to abortions, and a 20-week abortion ban.