Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco (D) signed three bills last week that restrict women's access to abortion. Two of the bills, HB 614 and SB 161, ban so-called "partial birth" abortions, making Louisiana the first state in the country to adopt its own laws after the US Supreme Court upheld a federal ban earlier this year. While the two bills contain the same major provisions, the Louisiana Law Institute, a legal panel dealing with state legislative technicalities, will be responsible for codifying the two statutes, though the Senate version will likely take precedent because it was passed first.
Under the Senate version of the bill, doctors who perform "partial birth" abortions could be fined between $10,000 and $100,000 and could receive between one and 10 years in jail. While there is an exception if a pregnant woman's life is in danger, there is no exception for pregnant women whose health is compromised. Parties able to pursue a "wrongful death" or injury lawsuit under the new law include the biological father, unless the pregnancy was a result of rape; the pregnant woman, unless she consented to the abortion; and the pregnant woman's guardians if she was a minor at the time of the abortion.
Last week, Gov. Blanco also signed HB 25, requiring that abortion providers tell patients that fetal anesthesia is available to "eliminate or alleviate organic pain to the unborn child" and that abortion providers give patients a brochure stating that an "unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain" at 20 weeks' gestation.
The law will go into effect August 15.
Media Resources: Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report 7/19/07; New Orleans Times-Picayune 7/14/07; AP 7/15/07; Louisiana State Legislature