Roundups Law and Policy

Legislative Lowlights: Louisiana Lawmakers Continue Assault on Reproductive Rights

Brie Shea

Join Rewire.News for its inaugural weekly roundup of state-based anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Rewire.News tracks anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ legislation as it works its way through state legislatures. Here’s an overview of the bills we’re watching.

Louisiana lawmakers this week advanced a handful of abortion restrictions, a Republican lawmaker in South Carolina copied Iowa’s unconstitutional six-week abortion ban, and the Missouri legislature approved a state budget that strips Planned Parenthood of funding. Happy Friday!

Louisiana

On Monday, the Louisiana State Senate passed HB 273 by a 31-0 vote. The bill, which was forwarded to the governor for his signature on Wednesday, would provide an exception for medication abortion to the state requirement for the interment or cremation of aborted fetal remains. The requirement stems from a law passed in 2016 (HB 815), one of several abortion restrictions from that year being challenged in court.

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The state senate amended and passed HB 891, another bill meant to clarify a law that’s being challenged in court. The bill would amend HB 606, which prohibits public funding for entities that perform abortions and which is in the midst of the legal challenge mentioned above. HB 891 would prohibit the state’s department of health from entering into a Medicaid provider agreement with any entity that is prohibited from receiving certain public funding for abortion-related reasons. The bill would also require each licensed abortion facility’s location to be physically and financially separate from any facility where publicly funded Medicaid services are provided.

On Tuesday, state house committees advanced two additional restrictive abortion measures. The Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee approved SB 325, which would allow the state to suspend or revoke the license of any clinic that falsifies or destroys patient records. SB 534, advanced by the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice, would prohibit coerced abortion and define criminal abortion and feticide as “crimes of violence.” SB 325 is scheduled for a house floor debate on May 16, 2018, while SB 534 is awaiting its third house reading.

Louisiana’s 15-week abortion ban, SB 181, inched closer to passage this week. The bill, which passed the state senate in April, advanced to its third reading in the state house. Earlier this year, Mississippi (with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom) became the first state to introduce and pass a ban on abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation. In March, that legislation was signed into law, immediately challenged, and temporarily blocked in federal court. SB 181 has a provision that if passed, the law would only be enforceable if Mississippi’s law is upheld.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana House voted to approve technical changes made in the senate to HB 449. The Louisiana Adoption Option Act would add information about adoption to a state-mandated website and informational materials presented to pregnant patients prior to an abortion procedure. The bill, which passed both chambers, will soon make its way to the governor’s desk.

South Carolina

Last week, South Carolina Democrats stopped a total abortion ban after a two-day filibuster. Naturally, on Wednesday, state Rep. Steven Long (R-Boiling Springs) introduced a bill prohibiting abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected (which can occur as early as six weeks of pregnancy). H 5403 is nearly identical to Iowa’s heartbeat abortion ban (SF 359) which was signed into law last week. 

Delaware

Republican lawmakers in Delaware introduced SB 205, a bill prohibiting abortion 20 weeks’ post-fertilization unless the abortion is necessary to prevent serious health risk to the pregnant person. The bill is based on copycat legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, which uses junk science to claim a fetus is capable of feeling pain at 20 weeks. Besides one bill prohibiting the sale of human fetal tissue in 2016, this is the first bill targeting abortion to come out of Delaware since Rewire.News began tracking legislation in 2013.

Minnesota

This week, a bill requiring physicians to offer pregnant people the option to view an ultrasound prior to an abortion cleared the Minnesota legislature. SF 2849, which passed the senate last week and the house on Thursday, now heads to Gov. Mark Dayton (D) for signature. No word yet on whether the governor will sign the bill, but Dayton has a history of vetoing abortion restrictions.

Missouri

Missouri’s legislature approved a state budget, HB 2011, that strips Planned Parenthood of Medicaid funding, while allocating millions of dollars to anti-choice programs and services. Meanwhile, state house and state senate committees continued to amend and move forward legislation, HB 1288/SB 632, aimed at reauthorizing and extending tax credits for fake clinics, commonly referred to as crisis pregnancy centers, and maternity homes that do not perform, induce, or refer for abortions.

Utah

On Tuesday, portions of Utah’s abortion amendments law, SB 118, took effect. The law replaces the state’s abortion education materials (a brochure and video) with an information module developed by the health department. A medical professional who fails to present the program and certify a pregnant person has viewed it could face a misdemeanor charge.

The module must describe and depict the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of a fetus at two-week gestational increments from fertilization to full term. It should include information regarding “substantial medical evidence” from studies concluding that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks’ gestation.

Looking Ahead…

A pair of anti-LGBTQ adoption bills are awaiting signature in Kansas and Oklahoma. Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) plans to sign the “Adoption Protection Act” (SB 284), which would allow child placement agencies to refuse to participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption due to the agency’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has not said if she intends to sign SB 1140, which would allow a private child-placing agency to refuse to participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the written religious or moral convictions of the agency.

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