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Common Abortion Procedure Banned in Louisiana With Democratic Support

Teddy Wilson

Republican lawmakers have pushed legislation to ban the D and E procedure in several states over the past year. The measures have been copies of bills drafted by the legislation mill known as the National Right to Life Committee.

Louisiana’s GOP-held legislature continued its legislative assault on reproductive rights, passing a bill Tuesday to ban a common method of abortion care. Lawmakers also put on a hold a measure to ban abortion care due to genetic abnormality.

HB 1081, sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City), would prohibit a person from intentionally 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. During the procedure, a physician dilates the patient’s cervix and removes the fetus.

Physicians who violate the law could face up to two years in jail and be fined up to $1,000 per violation.

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The state senate passed the bill with a bipartisan 36-2 vote. The house in April passed the bill in a 83-0 vote, with 16 Democrats and five Republicans abstaining.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) will sign the bill, Richard Carbo, the governor’s spokesperson, told the Associated Press.

Republican legislators have pushed legislation to ban the D and E procedure in several states over the past year. The measures have been copies of bills drafted by the legislation mill known as the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

West Virginia’s Republican-majority legislature in March voted to override the veto of a similar bill. The governors of Mississippi and Alabama signed similar bills this year.

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

Another bill stalled Tuesday in Louisiana’s State Senate Health and Welfare Committee amid lawmakers’ concerns about whether the bill is constitutional.

HB 1019, sponsored by Rep. Rick Edmonds (R-Baton Rouge), would prohibit a person from performing an abortion knowing that the patient is seeking abortion care solely because the “unborn child” has been diagnosed with either a genetic abnormality or a potential for a genetic abnormality.

The bill defines “genetic abnormality” as “any defect, disease, or disorder that is inherited genetically,” and provides that “the term includes, without limitation, any physical disfigurement, scoliosis, dwarfism, Down syndrome, albinism, amelia, and any other type of physical, mental, or intellectual disability, abnormality, or disease.”

A physician who violates the law would face a fine of up to $1,000 per incidence and/or up to two years in prison.

The bill has already been passed by the house on a 75-1 vote, with 19 Democrats and nine Republicans abstaining.

A number of people testified before the committee, sharing personal stories of pregnancies in which the fetus was diagnosed with a disability or fetal anomaly, reported the New Orleans Advocate.

Disability advocates say these types of anti-choice measures, introduced in several states in recent years, often promote false stereotypes of people with disabilities and their families.

State Sen. Jay Luneau (D-Alexandria) argued that the state shouldn’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend an unconstitutional law, reported the Associated Press.

“If we cannot win, why are we doing this? We can’t afford it. We’re broke,” Luneau said.

State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge) said that he was not sure if the bill would “pass constitutional muster” because it could be argued that it would restrict access to abortion care, reported the New Orleans Advocate.

“I’m pro-life, but when I get one like this, it puts me in a box: Do I go with the constitution, or make a decision against my oath?” Claitor said.

After Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a similar bill in March, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the law. It is the first legal challenge to such a measure.

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