News Abortion

Louisiana 20-Week Ban and Heartbeat Bills Pass Health Committee Vote

Robin Marty

The bills will now move to the senate for a vote.

Bills that will force women to have to opt out of listening to a fetal heartbeat when receiving a forced ultrasound, and that will ban abortion after 20 weeks post fertilization based on the erroneous claim of fetal pain have moved out of the Senate Health committee, and will now be voted on by the full Louisiana senate.


The measure is based on a similar law passed in Texas last year requiring that a doctor conduct a sonogram, describe the fetus and play aloud the fetal heartbeat, whether the woman wanted to hear it or not. The law was unanimously upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals after a group of doctors sued to block the law, saying it impeded their First Amendment rights and wrongly dictated how a doctor should treat their patients.

“So this bill today, before you, adds the additional feature of giving the woman the opportunity to heartbeat of her unborn child. I stress that because there seems to be a lot of distortions around giving someone the opportunity,” [Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge] said in a House Health and Welfare committee.

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“Opportunity” implies that if if she wants to hear it, the option is available. Forcing her to listen and watch is not an “opportunity” its a mandate.

News Abortion

Unconstitutional 20-Week Abortion Ban Primed to Pass in South Carolina

Teddy Wilson

The state senate passed the bill Tuesday in a 36-9 vote, as eight Democrats joined the Republican majority.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said that she would likely sign an unconstitutional ban on abortion care at 20 or more weeks of pregnancy. The bill’s path to the governor’s desk, however, has become uncertain

H 3114, sponsored by Rep. Wendy Nanney (R-Greenville), would ban abortions at 20 weeks or more post-fertilization unless, in the physician’s judgment, abortion care is necessary to avert the pregnant person’s death or avoid the risk of physical impairment of a major bodily function, other than a psychological condition. The measure’s limited definition of “fetal anomaly” means it would be illegal to abort many fetuses with severe disabilities. Senate Democrats have previously blocked the legislation.

Physicians who violate the anti-choice measure could face up to a $10,000 fine and three years in prison.

“I can’t imagine any scenario in which I wouldn’t sign it,” Haley told the Associated Press.

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South Carolina’s Republican lawmakers have pushed for similar legislation before, but Democrats have managed to block their efforts. Republicans were able to pass the bill this year after an epic legislative journey, as lawmakers added and removed amendments and debated the language of the unconstitutional abortion ban.

At issue has been what exceptions would be included in the bill. The current bill allows exceptions if the pregnant person’s life is in jeopardy or a doctor determines the fetus can’t survive outside the womb. There is no exception for rape or incest.

House members amended the measure to include such exceptions after the bill was first introduced in January 2015. The state senate amended the bill and stripped out the exceptions after state Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) filibustered the bill, charging there should be no exceptions included in the bill. 

The state senate passed the bill last week in a 36-9 vote, as eight Democrats joined the Republican majority in voting for the version of the bill negotiated by a conference committee of three house members and three state senators.

A two-thirds majority of state senators present is needed to approve the conference committee bill. However, a two-thirds majority of all representatives, regardless of whether or not they are present, is needed for approval in the house.

Two votes have failed to gain the 83 votes needed for approval. The house failed to pass the bill on March 9 by one vote, and again failed to pass the bill on March 10, falling three votes shy.

State Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) told the State that lawmakers have no business dictating to pregnant people what they should do about their health care. “I have faith in the women of South Carolina that they know best what to do when the time comes to make a decision about their bodies,” Hutto said.

Laws to ban abortion at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy with varying exceptions have been enacted in 16 states, and the courts have blocked those laws in three states: Arizona, Georgia, and Idaho.

The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, based on copycat legislation authored by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), justifies the ban on the theory that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks of pregnancy. The claim that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks has been discredited by medical professionals.

Hospitals are the only facilities in which pregnant people seeking to terminate a pregnancy at 20 weeks or later could obtain abortion care. South Carolina’s three abortion clinics do not provide the procedure past 18 weeks.

Lawmakers must approve the conference committee compromise bill by the time the legislative session ends in June.

News Abortion

New Mexico Senate Committee Rejects GOP’s 20-Week Abortion Ban

Nicole Knight

Supporters of the anti-choice legislation twice invoked a Doritos Super Bowl ad that depicted an animated fetus.

New Mexico Senate Democrats on Tuesday narrowly blocked a pair of GOP-sponsored bills to unconstitutionally outlaw abortion 20 weeks into pregnancy.

In a 5-4 vote, the Public Affairs Committee tabled two nearly identical bills sponsored by state Sen. Bill Sharer (R-Farmington) that defined viability at 20 weeks and criminalized abortion care performed at that stage and beyond. SB 242 made exceptions to the 20-week ban in cases of rape, incest, sexual abuse, and life endangerment of the pregnant person; a second bill, SB 243, lacked the rape, incest, and sexual abuse exceptions.

During more than an hour of testimony and discussion on the bills, advocates from the campaign Respect NM Women displayed yellow pins that read “Stand with NM Women & Families” and urged lawmakers to reject the bills. One woman told the chamber, “You are taking the ability of a woman to have body sovereignty.”

Supporters of the anti-choice bills twice invoked a Doritos Super Bowl ad that depicted an animated fetus, charging that a fetus is actually a person that should be granted rights.

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Denicia Cadena, policy director with the advocacy group Young Women United, told Rewire that the vote underscored that personal decisions should be entrusted to New Mexico families, not politicians.

Cadena pointed to the failure last year of a similar abortion ban and added that Albuquerque voters in 2013 rejected a city ballot measure to outlaw abortion services after 20 weeks.

Albuquerque is home to one of four facilities in the country that provides third-trimester abortions.

Almost 99 percent of abortions occur before a person is 21 weeks into pregnancy, according to Planned Parenthood. Many abortions that happen after 20 weeks involve rare fetal anomalies or serious risks to a pregnant person’s health.

“Voters agreed with us and said this decision needs to remain with a woman, her family and her doctor,” Cadena said.

The abortion restrictions were among a handful introduced in New Mexico’s 2016 legislative session, as Rewire has reported. Democrats hold the majority in the state senate, while Republicans control the house.

A bipartisan committee on Saturday voted to block a Republican-backed bill that called for state inspectors to monitor abortion clinics for unproven claims of fetuses being “born alive” during abortion procedures.

The bill drew heavily on copycat legislation, “The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act,” authored by Americans United for Life, an anti-choice legislation mill.


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