News Abortion

Jindal Signs Multiple Restrictions on Safe Abortion Care Into Law

Robin Marty

The women of Louisiana now need a 24-hour wait, to listen to the fetal or embryonic heart tones and must hear a physical description prior to abortion.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has signed new abortion restrictions into law, making the effort by a woman to obtain safe abortion care even more onerous and time consuming.

Via NOLA.com:

Gov. Bobby Jindal signed bills Thursday increasing the waiting time between a mandatory ultrasound and an abortion, requiring abortion providers to describe the results of that procedure to the woman and offer to let her hear the fetus’ heartbeat and prohibiting anyone who is not a physician from performing abortions.

The bill becomes law August 1, but won’t be enforced until September 29th to give providers time to learn about the new regulations and receive updated paperwork from the Department of Health.

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News Abortion

Michigan Governor Signs Republican-Initiated ‘Abortion Coercion’ Bills Into Law

Michelle D. Anderson

Snyder signed into law HB 4787 and its companion bill, HB 4830, last week, making it a criminal offense to coerce a pregnant person to have an abortion against their will.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed into law last week a two-bill package that will penalize citizens who engage in what Republican lawmakers are calling “abortion coercion.”

Snyder signed into law HB 4787 and its companion bill, HB 4830, on June 9, making it a criminal offense to coerce a pregnant person to have an abortion against their will.

As part of an omnibus anti-abortion legislative effort in 2012, the Republican-controlled legislation implemented provisions that involved a screening process for coercion at abortion clinics.

HB 4787, sponsored by Rep. Amanda Price (R-Park Township) and supported by Right to Life of Michigan, explicitly criminalizes coercing someone into an abortion. Under HB 4787, penalties include “a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000.00.”

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The law also outlines the many forms of coercion the bill seeks to prevent, including threats. For example, “threaten” is defined as making “2 or more statements or to engage in a course of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to believe that the individual is likely to act in accordance with the statements or the course of conduct.”

The companion law, HB 4830, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Jenkins (R-Clayton), creates felony penalties of jail time or $5,000 to $10,000 fines for those found guilty of violating HB 4787.

In May, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bills by a 3-1 vote, sending the measure to the Senate for a full vote. The House of Representatives had approved the two-bill package in March.

In 2012, Michigan lawmakers in support of the omnibus bill cited a 2004 study co-authored by David Reardon, the engineer who founded the anti-choice nonprofit organization, the Elliot Institute. That study, titled “Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women” was published in the Medical Science Monitor and suggested 64 percent of women who had abortions said they felt pressured into having the procedure performed.

Pro-choice advocates have criticized the study, noting that it used a small sample size of American women, 50 percent of whom already believed abortion was “morally wrong.” Advocates also point to a 2005 Guttmacher Institute study in which 14 percent of women who were asked their reasons for choosing abortion cited “husband or partner wants me to have an abortion,” and 6 percent cited “parents want me to have an abortion.” However, the Guttmacher study also found that less than 0.5 percent of each group cited those wishes as the single most important reason for having the abortion.

Many critics note that the Michigan laws do not include language that protects people forced into carrying a pregnancy to term and only focuses on those who are forced into terminating a pregnancy.

Sen. Rebekah Warren, (D-Ann Arbor) in particular, criticized that aspect of the legislation, according to the Detroit News.

“If we’re going to say today that it’s unacceptable today to coerce a woman into having an abortion and terminating a pregnancy, it should be equally unacceptable to force a woman into continuing a pregnancy that may not be in her best interest, that may not be what she needs for her health or mental well-being or for her future,” Warren said.

When the Michigan legislature began considering the two bills in 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood affiliates in Michigan spoke out against the law, arguing they were unnecessary.

Shelli Weisberg of the ACLU of Michigan told MLive.com that coercive abortion laws were rooted in false assumptions that those seeking abortion care are “confused, misled or coerced.”

Similarly, Planned Parenthood and lawmakers like Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren), said Michigan already had laws in place to prevent and penalize people who engage in coercive behavior such as stalking and discriminating against pregnant people, according to the Detroit News.

News Abortion

Louisiana’s Democratic Governor Signs ‘Unconscionable’ Anti-Choice Measure

Teddy Wilson

Republican lawmakers in several states have introduced identical bills, drafted by the anti-choice legislation mill known as the National Right to Life Committee.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is busy promoting the state’s Medicaid expansion, as he quietly signed a bill into law Tuesday that bans a common abortion procedure, the Associated Press reported.

HB 1081 would prohibit a person from performing or attempting to perform a “dismemberment abortion” unless it is necessary to prevent serious health risk to the pregnant person.

The bill targets the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure, commonly used in second-trimester abortion care and in cases of miscarriage. Physicians who violate the law could face up to two years in jail and be fined up to $1,000 per violation.

Republican lawmakers in several states have introduced identical bills, drafted by the anti-choice legislation mill known as the National Right to Life Committee. West Virginia’s GOP-held legislature in March voted to override the veto of a similar bill. The governors of Mississippi and Alabama signed similar bills this year. 

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State courts have blocked such measures passed by GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma and Kansas.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City), received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Republican-majority state legislature.

Amy Irvin, co-founder of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, told Rewire that throughout his gubernatorial campaign, Edwards pledged to address the economic and health inequities in Louisiana.

“Yet, by signing anti-choice legislation like HB 1081 … the Governor hurts the very women he pledged to help by interfering in the most personal of healthcare decisions,” Irvin wrote in an email to Rewire.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that it is “unconscionable” that Louisiana legislators would create additional barriers for those seeking abortion care.

“Louisiana women already face countless obstacles when they have made the decision to end a pregnancy, and these measures will only drive safe, legal, high-quality care out of reach for many women,” Northup said.

Irvin said that as Louisiana begins enrolling 375,000 residents into the newly expanded Medicaid program, the people of Louisiana have much to celebrate. However, Irvin said those celebrations are dampened when the governor signs laws that disproportionately affect residents that benefit from programs like Medicaid.

“Laws restricting access to comprehensive health care, including abortion, harm all people,” Irvin said. “But the damage is highest in the most marginalized communities, including low-income women, women of color, and rural women.”