La. lawmakers pass bill banning abortions even in cases of rape and incest
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - State lawmakers raced to pass more bills before they had to adjourn the 2022 regular legislative session on Monday evening.
Scores of bills had already made it through the legislative process, including an anti-abortion bill that has drawn strong criticism from the White House.
The legislature gave final approval to a bill that strengthens the state’s so-called trigger law that is already on the books. It will go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe. v. Wade case as legal observers and others expect later this month.
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The new Louisiana legislation, which lawmakers approved on Sunday and sent to Governor John Bel Edwards, would ban abortion in most cases without exceptions for rape or incest. It does allow for abortions if a pregnancy threatens the mother’s life. Doctors who perform abortions would also be subject to criminal penalties including prison time.
The Democratic governor, who opposes abortion, is expected to sign the bill into law. Anything Edwards doesn’t sign within 12 days will automatically become law, including a transgender sports bill which Edwards says he will not sign.
Louisiana is one of more than a dozen states in the U.S. that have trigger laws in place that will take effect if Roe is overturned, which is expected to happen sometime later this month. A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion suggested the conservative majority was poised to overturn the landmark ruling.
Representative Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, called the bill “shameful” and “embarrassing.”
“It’s shameful. It’s embarrassing. And the fact that some of my colleagues would say that an 11-year-old rape victim should be forced to have that child is a bridge way too far for many of us,” said Landry.
“That trigger is already there. I’m staunchly pro-life, so I know that bill has made its way to the governor’s desk, so we’ll see where that goes,” said Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge.
Representative Royce Duplessis says the bill “goes way too far.”
“One of the worst bills in the country and just totally, totally goes way too far, in terms of restricting a woman’s right to make her own health care choices,” said Rep. Duplessis, D-New Orleans.
Duplessis and others fear it will hurt New Orleans tourism.
“We’ve already seen a major conference pull out and I think you’re going to see more ripple effect,” said Duplessis.
“People are voting with their money nowadays,” Landry concurred.
But Sen. Cameron Henry, a Republican from Metairie is in support of the legislation.
“We’re a pro-life state, always have been and I can imagine we’ll always be moving forward, if that is a deterrent for someone coming to the state on that one issue, I mean that’s a choice they make and that’s the choice the state has made,” said Henry.
The White House on Monday forcefully criticized the bill.
“The Louisiana legislature has taken the latest step in a growing attack against the fundamental freedoms of Americans,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
“The President is committed to protecting the constitutional rights of Americans afforded by Roe for nearly 50 years, and ensuring that women can make their own choices about their lives, bodies, and families,” she continued. “An overwhelming majority of the American people agree and reject these kinds of radical measures.”
Vice President Kamala Harris met with faith leaders Monday to talk about the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning the landmark case. Harris blasted the new law, saying that supporting Roe “is simply about agreeing that a woman should be able to make that decision... Today Louisiana passed a law that will take away this right with no exception for rape or incest. The threat to all of these principles and priorities is clear & imminent.”
During the months-long session, lawmakers also approved insurance reform measures in the wake of Hurricane Ida.
“We passed a lot of bills that are all consumer-friendly dealing with the clarity of your page that shows what happens when you have a claim... what you need to do, who you need to call, limiting the amount of adjusters,” said Talbot.
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Teachers will also get a pay raise and money is allocated for more infrastructure projects.
“Getting the budget and capital outlay done early was one of the best things we’ve done this year. We had a lot of money this year as you know from the feds. There’s a ton of infrastructure projects being funded, some coastal projects, drainage, New Orleans got Sewerage and Water Board money,” said Landry.
Henry says the infrastructure will help Louisiana’s future.
“I think the fact that we put a lot of the money toward infrastructure in the state is key both short-term and long-term to make the state more friendly,” he said.
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