Louisiana enacts no-exceptions abortion law

by JewsOnFirst.org, June 8, 2006

The Louisiana legislature has passed a law criminalizing abortion and ruling out exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, plans to sign the bill in the next few days, her office told JewsOnFirst.

In its barring of exceptions and establishing harsh criminal penalties for abortion providers, the Louisiana bill resembles South Dakota's law passed earlier this year as an explicit challenge to the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision, which affirmed a woman's right to choose. Louisiana's law will not take effect unless the Court overturns Roe vs. Wade.

Even so, the law "has implications for women in the 49 other states," said Ted Miller, communications director at NARAL Pro-Choice America. The law, he said, is "a direct attack on women's freedom and privacy."

Governor Blanco "would have liked to have exceptions added," her deputy press secretary, Roderick Hawkins, told JewsOnFirst. But "she has always been pro-life," he said, and "the bill does have some exceptions for the life of the mother." Hawkins said Blanco is "going along with the legislation" because of the legislature's "overwhelming" vote for it.

The House passed the bill on May 31st by a vote of 85 to 17. Earlier, legislators debated amendment to allow abortions for victims of rape or incest. They rejected it by a vote of 66-37.

The state Senate, where the bill had originated, passed it unanimously on June 5th.

Shortly before taking up the abortion bill the legislature considered, and turned down, a measure to increase the availability of emergency contraception to rape victims.

According to Ted Miller of Pro-Choice America, only six percent of the rape treatment offices in Louisiana provide emergency contraception to victims.

While the legislature was considering the law, the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault, a membership organization of sexual assault crisis centers in the state, posted on its website a summary of research supporting the importance of choice to rape and incest victims. It introduces the subject saying "Rape and incest are about taking control of the victim’s body and decisions about her life away from her. This ban does the same thing." Among the documented findings:

To read the entire summary, click here .

The foundation has also posted personal stories of rape victims whose attackers impregnated them. Two excerpts:

I was brutally raped at the age of 19 by an ex-boyfriend. I got pregnant as a result and had an abortion. If I had been forced to carry the child to term, I definitely would have committed suicide. To make a rape victim carry the child of her rapist is unbelievably cruel and certainly not "Christian".

Dear Governor Blanco,
I am a sexual assault nurse and recently I saw a 15 year old girl who was assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend. She was a few weeks pregnant. During the course of my interview with the girl and her mother it was discovered that her mother was also pregnant by the same man. You can imagine how devastating the news of an assault can be but to compound that with the knowledge that mother and daughter are pregnant by the same man is almost unimaginable. My role was to collect evidence for prosecution and to do some family and crisis interventions. I don't know if this family chose abortion as an option but I do know they had a choice. In a free society knowing you have a choice empowers you as a person and allow you to make the right choice for your circumstances. Please veto the bill that would criminalize abortion for survivors of rape. Send the message that democracy is about choice and not about limiting choice and access.

Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault

For more on the abortion law, please click here .

TOPIC: Reproductive Rights